An Exploration of Reported Cognitions During an Earthquake and Its Aftershocks: Differences Across Affected Communities and Associations With Psychological Distress

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Abstract

Cognitive themes in two communities differentially affected by the September 2010 Christchurch earthquake and aftershocks were investigated. Participants (N = 124) completed questions about their thoughts during the earthquake and aftershocks as well as measures of acute stress, anxiety, and depression. Cognitions were qualitatively analyzed into themes for the earthquake and aftershocks. Themes were examined for differences across the two suburbs and associations with psychological distress. Nine cognitive themes were identified within three superordinate domains. The cognitive theme of worry and concern was the most frequently occurring for the earthquake and aftershocks across the whole sample and for the more affected suburb. Current threat was the most frequent theme for the earthquake in the less affected suburb, whereas worry and concern was the most evident in this group for aftershocks. The superordinate theme of threat was significantly related to higher acute stress disorder scores in the more affected suburb for earthquake-reported cognitions.

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