Mental Health Outcomes Among Adults in Galveston and Chambers Counties After Hurricane Ike

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Abstract

Objective

To examine the mental health effects of Hurricane Ike, the third costliest hurricane in US history, which devastated the upper Texas coast in September 2008.

Method

Structured telephone interviews assessing immediate effects of Hurricane Ike (damage, loss, displacement) and mental health diagnoses were administered via random digit-dial methods to a household probability sample of 255 Hurricane Ike–affected adults in Galveston and Chambers counties.

Results

Three-fourths of respondents evacuated the area because of Hurricane Ike and nearly 40% were displaced for at least one week. Postdisaster mental health prevalence estimates were 5.9% for posttraumatic stress disorder, 4.5% for major depressive episode, and 9.3% for generalized anxiety disorder. Bivariate analyses suggested that peritraumatic indicators of hurricane exposure severity—such as lack of adequate clean clothing, electricity, food, money, transportation, or water for at least one week—were most consistently associated with mental health problems.

Conclusions

The significant contribution of factors such as loss of housing, financial means, clothing, food, and water to the development and/or maintenance of negative mental health consequences highlights the importance of systemic postdisaster intervention resources targeted to meet basic needs in the postdisaster period.

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