The association between disaster-related experiences and mental health outcomes among drug using African American Hurricane Katrina evacuees

Community Ment Health J. 2010 Dec;46(6):612-20. doi: 10.1007/s10597-009-9286-4. Epub 2010 Jan 21.


This article provides a detailed examination of the relationship between disaster-related experiences and mental health outcomes among a sample of drug using African American Hurricane Katrina evacuees. Face-to-face structured interviews were administered to Hurricane Katrina evacuees (n = 350) residing in voucher assisted apartment complexes in Houston, Texas (2006-2007). We use Ordinary Least Squares and logistic regression models to examine both the relevance of disaster-related experiences and the interactive relationships between disaster-related experiences and post-disaster mental health outcomes including psychological distress, severe depression, somatic symptoms, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Results indicate that disaster-related experiences including negative life changes, disaster exposure, post-disaster stressors, and resource loss, have unique, inverse relationships with mental health. While resource loss has the strongest inverse relationship with mental health, disaster exposure has a negative interactive effect on psychological distress and anxiety. Although highly vulnerable populations report low levels of mental health nearly 2 years following a disaster experience, there is a convergence in mental health outcomes with high levels of disaster experiences and disaster exposure that suggests mental resiliency.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans / psychology*
  • Cyclonic Storms*
  • Disasters
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Life Change Events
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Refugees / psychology*
  • Refugees / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / ethnology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / ethnology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • Texas / epidemiology
  • Young Adult