Loss as a determinant of PTSD in a cohort of adult survivors of the 1988 earthquake in Armenia: implications for policy

Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2000 Jul;102(1):58-64. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-0447.2000.102001058.x.


Objective: To study the relationship of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to severity of the disaster experience.

Method: A sample of 1785 adult participants of an epidemiological study initiated in the immediate aftermath of the 1988 earthquake in Armenia were interviewed about 2 years following the disaster based on the NIMH DIS-Disaster Supplement. All 154 cases of pure PTSD were compared with 583 controls without symptoms satisfying psychiatric diagnoses of interest.

Results: PTSD cases included more persons from areas with the worst destruction. Having the highest level of education compared to lowest (OR 0.6 [95% CI 0.4-0.9]), being accompanied at the moment of the earthquake (OR 0.6 [95% CI 0.4-0.9]) and making new friends after the earthquake (OR 0.6 [95% CI 0.5-0.8]) were protective for PTSD. PTSD risk increased with the total amount of loss to the family (OR for highest level of loss 4.1 [95% CI 2.3-7.5]).

Conclusion: Based on this large population sample, we believe that early support to survivors with high levels of loss may reduce PTSD following earthquakes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Armenia / epidemiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Disaster Planning*
  • Disasters*
  • Emergency Services, Psychiatric
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Survivors / psychology*