Mental health impacts of flooding: a controlled interrupted time series analysis of prescribing data in England

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Abstract

Background

There is emerging evidence that people affected by flooding suffer adverse impacts on their mental well-being, mostly based on self-reports.

Methods

We examined prescription records for drugs used in the management of common mental disorder among primary care practices located in the vicinity of recent large flood events in England, 2011–2014. A controlled interrupted time series analysis was conducted of the number of prescribing items for antidepressant drugs in the year before and after the flood onset. Pre–post changes were compared by distance of the practice from the inundated boundaries among 930 practices located within 10 km of a flood.

Results

After control for deprivation and population density, there was an increase of 0.59% (95% CI 0.24 to 0.94) prescriptions in the postflood year among practices located within 1 km of a flood over and above the change observed in the furthest distance band. The increase was greater in more deprived areas.

Conclusions

This study suggests an increase in prescribed antidepressant drugs in the year after flooding in primary care practices close to recent major floods in England. The degree to which the increase is actually concentrated in those flooded can only be determined by more detailed linkage studies.

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