Some health consequences of a natural disaster

Med J Aust. 1985 Sep 2;143(5):182-4. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.1985.tb122908.x.


A survey of the health and psychosocial problems of all victims of the 1983 South Australian Ash Wednesday Bushfires was carried out 12 months after the disaster. A total of 1526 victims completed an extensive questionnaire that included the 28-item General Health Questionnaire and a self-reporting check-list of specific health problems. The data received indicated a significant increase in stress-related conditions, including hypertension, gastrointestinal disorders, diabetes, and mental illness, while the prevalence of nonstress-related conditions such as cancer or urological disease were not increased significantly. Health problems increased during the 12 months following the bushfire and diminished toward the end of that period, but a large number of difficulties remained. Certain disaster experiences, particularly the type of loss suffered, were found to be significantly related to health.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology
  • Australia
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology
  • Disasters*
  • Family
  • Female
  • Fires*
  • Health Status*
  • Health*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marriage
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Physicians / statistics & numerical data
  • Respiration Disorders / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological