The Role of Relocation Patterns and Psychosocial Stressors in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Depression Among Earthquake Survivors

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The psychological impact of relocation within and outside of a disaster region was examined in 541 survivors of the 2011 Van earthquake in Turkey at 16.5 months postdisaster. Relocation out of the region was determined by disaster-related property/financial losses and fear during the earthquake. Anticipatory fear of future earthquakes and less sense of control over life were the strongest predictors of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression symptoms. Relocation within the disaster region predicted PTSD but not depression. Dissatisfaction with emotional support received from close ones was significantly associated with depression, but it was associated with PTSD at a marginally significant level. Survivors who experienced more intense fear during the earthquake displayed higher levels of anticipatory fear in the long term, whereas avoidance of trauma reminders and fear-evoking situations sustained anticipatory fear of future earthquakes. These findings suggest that interventions that reduce fear and avoidance behaviors would help survivors overcome traumatic stress and depressive symptoms.

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