The impact of hurricane Katrina on the mental and physical health of low-income parents in New Orleans

Am J Orthopsychiatry. 2010 Apr;80(2):237-247. doi: 10.1111/j.1939-0025.2010.01027.x.

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to document changes in mental and physical health among 392 low-income parents exposed to Hurricane Katrina and to explore how hurricane-related stressors and loss relate to post-Katrina well-being. The prevalence of probable serious mental illness doubled, and nearly half of the respondents exhibited probable posttraumatic stress disorder. Higher levels of hurricane-related loss and stressors were generally associated with worse health outcomes, controlling for baseline sociodemographic and health measures. Higher baseline resources predicted fewer hurricane-associated stressors, but the consequences of stressors and loss were similar regardless of baseline resources. Adverse health consequences of Hurricane Katrina persisted for a year or more and were most severe for those experiencing the most stressors and loss. Long-term health and mental health services are needed for low-income disaster survivors, especially those who experience disaster-related stressors and loss.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans / psychology
  • Cyclonic Storms*
  • Disasters
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • New Orleans / epidemiology
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Poverty / psychology*
  • Prevalence
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Social Support
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology*
  • Time Factors