Three-year follow-up study of the relationship between posttraumatic stress symptoms and quality of life among earthquake survivors in Yu-Chi, Taiwan

J Psychiatr Res. 2007 Jan-Feb;41(1-2):90-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2005.10.004. Epub 2005 Dec 2.


Objective: To prospectively evaluate the relationship between the clinical course of posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) and quality of life (QOL) among Taiwan earthquake survivors for 3 years.

Methods: A population survey was done in a Taiwan township near the epicenter of a severe earthquake (7.3 on the Richter scale). Trained assistants used the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form-36 (MOS SF-36) and the Disaster-Related Psychological Screening Test to interview earthquake survivors 16 and older. A total of 1756 respondents were surveyed during the 3-year follow-up period.

Results: At 0.5 and 3 years after the earthquake, the estimated rate of PTSS (cutoff point, 3/4) was 23.8% and 4.4%, respectively. The survivors with PTSS scored lower for each concept of the MOS SF-36 at these two intervals. Three years after the earthquake, the survivors in the persistently healthy group showed the highest scores in all subscales and domains of the MOS SF-36; second-highest was the recovering group; third-highest was the delayed PTSS group; and the persistent PTSS group showed the lowest scores in all concepts and domains. Notably, survivors with delayed onset PTSS exhibited a lower QOL when PTSS occurred.

Conclusions: Three years after the earthquake, the estimated rate of PTSS had declined, and the QOL of the survivors varied according to how their PTSS had progressed.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Catchment Area, Health
  • Disasters / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Survivors / psychology*
  • Survivors / statistics & numerical data*
  • Taiwan / epidemiology