We evaluated the association between health-related quality of life (HR-QOL) and intent to return home among former residents of Tomioka Town, Fukushima Prefecture 9 years after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident to support the recovery of the community after the accident. We conducted a questionnaire survey asking residents about their intention to return to their original home, risk perception for radiation exposure, HR-QOL using the HR-QOL Short Form 8 (SF-8), and sense of coherence using the Sense of Coherence Scale (SOC-13). Among the 1029 residents, a total of 138 (13%) had already returned to Tomioka (group 1), 223 (22%) were undecided (group 2), and 668 (65%) had decided not to return (group 3). Group 2 had poorer HR-QOL than groups 1 and 3, especially physical function, body pain, general health, social functioning, and mental health. The ratio of residents with a better sense of coherence was significantly higher in group 1 than in groups 2 and 3. Our present study indicated poorer HR-QOL among residents who were undecided about returning home. It is necessary to provide a model for a multidisciplinary approach for the public during the recovery phase of a nuclear accident.
Keywords: Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident; intention to return; quality of life; recovery efforts from the nuclear accident.