Acute disaster exposure and mental health complaints of Norwegian tsunami survivors six months post disaster

Psychiatry. 2008 Fall;71(3):266-76. doi: 10.1521/psyc.2008.71.3.266.


The objective was to investigate the relationship between possible disaster stressors and subsequent health problems among tourists experiencing the 2004 South-East Asia tsunami. A cross-sectional study was performed as a postal survey concerning the experiences of the disaster exposure in retrospect and the presence of psychological symptoms (GHQ-28) in Norwegian tsunami victims 6 months post disaster. The strongest predictors of health complaints were danger of death, witness impressions, and bereavements. Aggravated outcomes were also seen in those who helped others in the acute phase or had sole responsibility for children when the tsunami struck. Having a family member or close friend who was injured was reversely associated with health problems. Women reported more psychological distress than men, but the difference disappeared with increasing degree of danger exposure. Dose-response relationships to psychological distress were found for single exposure factors as well as for the cumulative effects of being exposed to several exposure variables.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Affective Symptoms / epidemiology
  • Affective Symptoms / psychology
  • Bereavement
  • Dangerous Behavior
  • Disasters / statistics & numerical data*
  • Family Relations
  • Female
  • Friends
  • Helping Behavior
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / diagnosis
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Survivors / psychology*