Resilience after hurricane Katrina among pregnant and postpartum women

Womens Health Issues. 2010 Jan-Feb;20(1):20-7. doi: 10.1016/j.whi.2009.10.002.


Background: Although disaster causes distress, many disaster victims do not develop long-term psychopathology. Others report benefits after traumatic experiences (posttraumatic growth). The objective of this study was to examine demographic and hurricane-related predictors of resilience and posttraumatic growth.

Methods: We interviewed 222 pregnant southern Louisiana women and 292 postpartum women completed interviews at delivery and 8 weeks later. Resilience was measured by scores lower than a nonaffected population, using the Edinburgh Depression Scale and the Post-Traumatic Stress Checklist. Posttraumatic growth was measured by questions about perceived benefits of the storm. Women were asked about their experience of the hurricane, addressing danger, illness/injury, and damage. Chi-square tests and log-Poisson models were used to calculate associations and relative risks for demographics, hurricane experience, and mental health resilience and perceived benefit.

Findings: Thirty-five percent of pregnant and 34% of the postpartum women were resilient from depression, whereas 56% and 49% were resilient from posttraumatic stress disorder. Resilience was most likely among White women, older women, and women who had a partner. A greater experience of the storm, particularly injury/illness or danger, was associated with lower resilience. Experiencing damage because of the storm was associated with increased report of some perceived benefits.

Conclusion: Many pregnant and postpartum women are resilient from the mental health consequences of disaster, and perceive benefits after a traumatic experience. Certain aspects of experiencing disaster reduce resilience, but may increase perceived benefit.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Cyclonic Storms*
  • Depression, Postpartum / epidemiology*
  • Depression, Postpartum / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Services Needs and Demand / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Louisiana / epidemiology
  • Maternal Welfare / statistics & numerical data
  • Mental Health / statistics & numerical data
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / psychology*
  • Prenatal Care / organization & administration
  • Prenatal Care / psychology
  • Resilience, Psychological
  • Social Support
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Women's Health
  • Young Adult