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Victims of violence, accidents and threats are at risk for mental health problems. Lower coping self-efficacy and social support levels increase this risk. Although highly relevant, it is unknown if the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic amplifies these risks.
To examine if the prevalence, incidence and/or mean scores for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression symptoms, general mental health problems, coping self-efficacy, lack of emotional support and social acknowledgement are higher among adults victimised in the year after the COVID-19 outbreak compared with adults victimised in a similar period before the outbreak. Also, to compare symptoms, problems and support within non-victims during the same period.
Data was extracted from four surveys of the VICTIMS study (March 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021), based on a random sample of the Dutch population. Multivariate logistic regression analyses and mixed-effects models were used to examine differences between the two victim groups (2019: n = 421, 2021: n = 319) and non-victims (n = 3245).
Adults victimised after the outbreak more often had PTSD, anxiety and depression symptoms, general mental health problems and lower coping self-efficacy than those victimised before. They did not differ in lack of support and acknowledgement. Both victim groups differed from non-victims, where mental health problems and lack of support levels were much lower and almost stable.
The COVID-19 pandemic had a negative impact on the mental health and coping self-efficacy levels of victims, whereas mental health problems among non-victims remained virtually stable. Mental healthcare workers, general practitioners and victim services should take this impact into account.
Patients with a lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI) might be at risk for long-term impaired health status. We assessed whether LRTI patients without Q fever are equally at risk for developing long-term symptoms compared to LRTI patients with Q fever. The study was a cross-sectional cohort design. Long-term health status information of 50 Q fever-positive and 32 Q fever-negative LRTI patients was obtained. Health status was measured by the Nijmegen Clinical Screening Instrument. The most severely affected subdomains of the Q fever-positive group were ‘general quality of life’ (40%) and ‘fatigue’ (40%). The most severely affected subdomains of the Q fever-negative group were ‘fatigue’ (64%) and ‘subjective pulmonary symptoms’ (35%). Health status did not differ significantly between Q fever-positive LRTI patients and Q fever-negative LRTI patients for all subdomains, except for ‘subjective pulmonary symptoms’ (P = 0·048).
Disaster research suggests that immigrant groups who are affected by a disaster receive less emotional support than their native counterparts. However, it is unclear to what extent these differences can be attributed to post-disaster mental health problems or whether they were present before the event.
To examine the association between lack of social support, immigration status and victim status, as well as differences in support between immigrants and Dutch natives with disaster-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Social support and psychological distress were assessed among immigrants and Dutch natives, among affected and non-affected individuals 4 years post disaster. Post-traumatic stress disorder was examined in the affected groups.
Affected immigrants more often lacked various kinds of perceived social support compared with affected Dutch natives. Remarkably, we found no differences in support between affected immigrants and non-affected immigrants. Immigrants with PTSD differ on only two out of six aspects of support from the Dutch natives with PTSD.
Results clearly indicate that differences in support between immigrants and Dutch natives are not so much a consequence of the disaster but were largely present before the disaster.
This chapter summarizes the current state of the literature relating to each of the disaster phases across a wide range of variables, including sociocultural factors and environment and community resources. Social networks among racial/ethnic minority cultures can be a significant protective factor against adverse mental health consequences, and the emphasis on social networks among many racial/ethnic minority cultures appears to also influence evacuation efforts. Differences in risk perception between minority and majority populations contribute to differences in disaster exposure. A variety of cultural beliefs appear to affect individuals in pre- and peridisaster phases. Several factors have an impact on marginalized populations' postdisaster mental health outcomes. Environmental and community resources suggest that limited or lack of resources appears to significantly impact disaster-response in marginalized populations. The chapter further discusses the implications for research, disaster-response efforts, and practice.
This chapter overviews the current literature on substance use after disasters in affected populations. Several studies examined different aspects of substance use, such as prevalence, comorbidity, correlates and/or predictors of alcohol, tobacco and drugs use. The chapter outlines the prevalence of substance dependency-abuse, changes in substance use, and associations between substance use and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other mental health problems after different categories of disasters. It describes the associations between substance use and mental health disturbances after several types of disasters. The chapter presents correlates of substance use or misuse in detail, that is, (independent) predictors of substance use, as well as substance use as a (independent) predictor for PTSD and other postdisaster mental health disturbances. It focuses on residents affected by natural and technological disasters as well as disasters caused by mass violence and terrorism.
Background. Little is known about the correspondence between persistent self-reported disaster-related psychological problems and these problems reported by general practitioners (GPs). The aim of this study is to analyse this correspondence and to identify the factors associated with GPs' detection of persistent psychological problems.
Method. This study was conducted in a sample of 879 adult disaster-affected victims, taken from two longitudinal sources: the Enschede Firework Disaster Study and the GP-Monitor Study. Participants filled out a questionnaire 2–3 weeks and 18 months post-disaster and these data were combined with data from a GP-monitor collected up to 18 months post-disaster. The correspondence between persistent self-reported and GP-reported psychological problems was analysed with cross-tabulations. Logistic regression analyses were performed to identify variables which predicted GPs' detection of psychological problems.
Results. The correspondence rate among victims who visited their GP 18 months post-disaster was 60·4% for persistent intrusions and avoidance reactions, 72·6% for persistent general psychological distress and less than 20% for persistent depression and anxiety symptoms or sleep disturbances. Characteristics that predict GPs' identification of post-traumatic reactions or psychological distress were the level of self-reported post-traumatic symptoms/mental health, the number of contacts the victims had with their GP and the level of the victims' disaster-related experiences.
Conclusions. In general, there is a considerable correspondence between GP-reported and persistent self-reported incidences of post-traumatic stress and general psychological distress in disaster-affected victims. However, the correspondence declines in the case of more specific psychological symptoms.
There are few prospective studies on risk factors for health problems
after disasters in which actual pre-disaster health data are
To examine whether survivors' personal characteristics, and pre-disaster
psychological problems, and disaster-related variables, are related to
their post-disaster health.
Two studies were combined: a longitudinal survey using the electronic
medical records of survivors' general practitioners (GPs), from 1 year
before to 1 year after the disaster, and a survey in which questionnaires
were filled in by survivors, 3 weeks and 18 months after the disaster.
Data from both surveys and the electronic medical records were available
for 994 survivors.
After adjustment for demographic and disaster-related variables,
pre-existing psychological problems were significantly associated with
post-disaster self-reported health problems and post-disaster problems
presented to the GP. This association was found for both psychological
and physical post-disaster problems.
In trying to prevent long-term health consequences after disaster, early
attention to survivors with pre-existing psychological problems, and to
those survivors who are forced to relocate or are exposed to many
stressors during the disaster, appears appropriate.
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