“Our results add to the growing body of evidence that disaster survivors continue to suffer from poor mental and physical health for prolonged periods of time after the initial impact” says lead researcher Professor Son Chae Kim.
“The health problem rates we recorded were considerably higher than those reported by Louisiana residents to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) in 2003. The BRFSS is the world’s largest, on-going telephone health survey system and has been tracking health conditions and risk behaviors in the United States every year since 1984.”
Key findings of the survey include:
- 52 per cent of the respondents reported a day or more of poor mental health in the past month, with 18 per cent reporting daily mental health problems. These figures were two to three times higher than the pre-Katrina levels recorded in 2003 among Louisiana residents. Then, 26 per cent reported a day or more of mental health, with six per cent reporting daily mental health problems.
- The mental health problems appear to be worse than those reported five to 15 months after the September 11 terrorist attacks, in which 33 per cent of survivors reported having a day or more of poor mental health.
- People were more likely to suffer from poor mental health if they were female or had experienced poor physical health in the past month. Respondents diagnosed with depression before the incident were 19 times more likely to experience poor mental health and people who felt unsafe from crime were four times more likely.
- Just under half of the residents (48 per cent) reported a day or more of poor physical health, with 11 per cent reporting daily physical health problems. These are approximately one and half times the pre-Katrina levels recorded in 2003 among Louisiana residents. Then, 33 per cent reported a day or more of poor physical health, with seven per cent reporting daily physical health problems.
- Poor mental health during the past month, lack of money for food and pre-Katrina arthritis were significant predictors of poor physical health during the past month.