Aim: Natural calamities are known to result in higher stress conditions and also result in adverse health outcomes including development of non-communicable diseases. The impact of tsunami on mental stress and prevalence of hyperglycemic conditions was assessed in a population affected by the calamity in coastal populations of southern India.
Methods: Two populations similar in demography and physical characteristics, but, one affected by tsunami were selected for a comparative study. Subjects aged 20 years or above were randomly selected (control population n = 1176; tsunami population n = 1184). Details of stress were assessed using Harvard trauma questionnaire and scores were assigned. Glucose tolerance was assessed using 2h capillary blood glucose (75gms glucose load) and diagnosis was made using WHO criteria.
Results: Stress score was significantly higher in tsunami population. Although the total prevalence of diabetes was similar (control - 10.0 %; tsunami population - 10.5 %) prevalence of undetected diabetes (5.7 % vs. 3.8 %; Z = 9.54, P < 0.001) and impaired glucose tolerance (9.8 % vs. 8.3 %; Z = 12.83, P < 0.001) higher in the tsunami area. Stress score was higher in women and in the young in the tsunami area.
Conclusion: Population affected by tsunami was under high stress and also showed a high prevalence of undetected diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance.