Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Hurricane Katrina Increased Mental And Physical Health Problems In New Orleans By Up To Three Times

Date:
September 3, 2008
Source:
Wiley - Blackwell
Summary:
Half the residents of New Orleans were suffering from poor mental and physical health more than a year after their homes and community were devastated by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, according to new research.

A house destroyed and lifted off its foundation by Hurricane Katrina, located in Irish Bayou, New Orleans, LA.
Credit: iStockphoto/Chad Purser

Half the residents of New Orleans were suffering from poor mental and physical health more than a year after their homes and community were devastated by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, according to research published in the September issue of the UK-based Journal of Clinical Nursing.

Researchers from Point Loma Nazarene University, San Diego, California, spoke to 222 local residents 15 months after they survived one of the worst natural disasters to hit the USA.

They discovered that some health problems tripled in the post-Katrina period, compared to a survey of Louisiana residents carried out before the hurricane.

“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.

“Some of the findings did surprise us” says Professor Kim. “Being unemployed and having missing family members were not correlated with poor mental health, but they did correlate with poor physical health.

“Also, difficult access to clean drinking water did not correlate with poor physical health, but it did correlate with poor mental health.”

The aims of the study were to assess the medium-term post-Katrina mental and physical health of New Orleans residents and to determine the demographic, social and environmental factors that predict these problems.

The 222 residents were interviewed by University nursing students and faculty members, in partnership with the non-profit organisation Heart to Heart International. They were carried out during door-to-door visits and a community health fair in December 2006, 15 months after Katrina.

Just under two-thirds of the respondents (64 per cent) were aged between 35 and 64 years of age and 47 per cent had some college education. Sixty per cent were female, 77 per cent were black and 47 per cent were unemployed.

More than a quarter had no healthcare insurance, ate less than they should because of lack of money, lived below the poverty line and said their current house was unsafe due to major damage. Almost a quarter (23 per cent) felt unsafe from crime.

“Our findings indicate that the Katrina survivors are likely to suffer from persistent poor mental and physical health for the foreseeable future unless concerted interventions are put in place” says Professor Kim.

“The study suggests that post-Katrina efforts should focus on protecting the residents from crime, improving mental health services to those who are depressed and improving food supplies to the poor.

“We also hope that our findings will provide valuable guidance for healthcare professionals and policy makers involved in future disasters, by helping them to anticipate and deal with the mental and physical health problems that are left behind once the initial crisis has been dealt with."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley - Blackwell. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Wiley - Blackwell. "Hurricane Katrina Increased Mental And Physical Health Problems In New Orleans By Up To Three Times." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 September 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080903075614.htm>.
Wiley - Blackwell. (2008, September 3). Hurricane Katrina Increased Mental And Physical Health Problems In New Orleans By Up To Three Times. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080903075614.htm
Wiley - Blackwell. "Hurricane Katrina Increased Mental And Physical Health Problems In New Orleans By Up To Three Times." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080903075614.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Study On Artists' Brain Shows They're 'Structurally Unique'

Study On Artists' Brain Shows They're 'Structurally Unique'

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The brains of artists aren't really left-brain or right-brain, but rather have extra neural matter in visual and motor control areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) Pushing the limits on style and self-expression is a rite of passage for teens and even younger kids. How far should schools go with their dress codes? The courts have sided with schools in an era when school safety is paramount. (April 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins