Burnout and Psychiatric Distress in Local Caregivers Two Years After the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Fukushima Nuclear Radiation Disaster

Community Ment Health J. 2016 Jan;52(1):39-45. doi: 10.1007/s10597-015-9924-y. Epub 2015 Aug 25.


The 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake precipitated a triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear radiation disaster. To quantify the prevalence of burnout and psychiatric distress in local healthcare providers (caregivers) more than 2 years after the disaster, this study surveyed caregivers from affected areas through interviews about topics of concerns and two questionnaires: Maslach Burnout Inventory and General Health Questionnaire. Concerns listed by respondents were primarily radiation related: additional stress, concern for children, concern for local food, and sleep difficulties. We found significant number of caregivers to have signs of emotional exhaustion, low personal accomplishment, and psychological distress. Our findings suggest that local caregivers are experiencing substantial mental health burdens, which have unfortunately remained static from the year prior, even 2 years after the fact. Therefore, long term psychological support and improvement in caregiver work conditions are essential to maintain sustainable care in rebuilding disaster stricken areas.

Keywords: Burnout; Caregiver; Great East Japan Earthquake; Psychiatric distress; Radiation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Burnout, Professional / epidemiology*
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Disasters
  • Female
  • Fukushima Nuclear Accident*
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult