Immediate and longer-term stressors and the mental health of Hurricane Ike survivors

J Trauma Stress. 2013 Dec;26(6):753-61. doi: 10.1002/jts.21872.


Previous research has documented that individuals exposed to more stressors during disasters and their immediate aftermath (immediate stressors) are at risk of experiencing longer-term postdisaster stressors. Longer-term stressors, in turn, have been found to play a key role in shaping postdisaster psychological functioning. Few studies have simultaneously explored the links from immediate to longer-term stressors, and from longer-term stressors to psychological functioning, however. Additionally, studies have inadequately explored whether postdisaster psychological symptoms influence longer-term stressors. In the current study, we aimed to fill these gaps. Participants (N = 448) were from population-based study of Hurricane Ike survivors and completed assessments 2-5 months (Wave 1), 5-9 months (Wave 2) and 14-18 months (Wave 3) postdisaster. Through path analysis, we found that immediate stressors, assessed at Wave 1, were positively associated with Wave 2 and Wave 3 stressors, which in turn were positively associated with Wave 2 and Wave 3 posttraumatic stress and depressive symptoms. Wave 2 posttraumatic stress symptoms were positively associated with Wave 3 stressors, and Wave 1 depressive symptoms were positively associated with Wave 2 stressors. The findings suggest that policies and interventions can reduce the impact of disasters on mental health by preventing and alleviating both immediate and longer-term postdisaster stressors.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cyclonic Storms
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / etiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Survivors / psychology*
  • Time Factors