Relationships between traumatic symptoms and environmental damage conditions among children 8 months after the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami

PLoS One. 2012;7(11):e50721. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0050721. Epub 2012 Nov 29.


Background: To evaluate relationships between traumatic symptoms and environmental damage conditions among children who survived the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.

Methods: The subjects were 12,524 children in kindergartens, elementary schools, and junior high schools in Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. The Post Traumatic Stress Symptoms for Children 15 items (PTSSC-15), a self-completion questionnaire on traumatic symptoms, was distributed to the children and a questionnaire regarding environmental damage conditions affecting the children was distributed to their teachers. Of 12,524 questionnaires distributed, an effective response was obtained from 11,692 (93.3%).

Results: The PTSSC-15 score was significantly higher in females than in males among 4(th) to 6(th) grade students in elementary schools and among junior high school students. In terms of traumatic symptoms and environmental damage conditions, with the exception of kindergartners, children who had their houses damaged or experienced separation from family members had a significantly higher PTSSC-15 score than children who did not experience environmental damage. Except for kindergartners and 4(th)- to 6(th)-grade elementary school students, children who experienced evacuation had a significantly higher PTSSC-15 score.

Conclusions: This study demonstrated relationships between traumatic symptoms and environmental damage conditions in children who had suffered from the disaster. Factors examined in studying the relationship between environmental damage conditions and traumatic symptoms were gender, age, house damage, evacuation experience, and bereavement experience. It was critical not only to examine the traumatic symptoms of the children but also to collect accurate information about environmental damage conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Bereavement
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Earthquakes*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis*
  • Students
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tsunamis*

Grant support

This work was supported by the grant of National Center for Global Health and Medicine (24–108), Soroptimist International of the Americas Japan Shimomatsu Region, Ishinomaki Rotary Club, Yaohigashi Rotary Club,and Tokuyama Rotary Club. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.