Understanding acute psychological distress following natural disaster

J Trauma Stress. 1994 Apr;7(2):257-73. doi: 10.1007/BF02102947.


A household probability sample of 229 adults was interviewed four to seven months after the Sierra Madre earthquake (June 28, 1991; Los Angeles County). The study predicted psychological distress from these variables: demographics, traumatic event history, low magnitude event history, earthquake related threat perceptions, and earthquake related resource loss. Based on the Conservation of Resources (COR) stress model, it was predicted that resource loss would be central in predicting psychological distress. Three major hypotheses were supported: (1) resource loss was positively associated with psychological distress; (2) resource loss predicted psychological distress when other predictors were statistically controlled; and (3) resource loss was associated with mild to moderate elevations in of psychological distress. The findings support COR stress theory. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • California
  • Disasters*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological
  • Probability
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Racial Groups
  • Sex Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / diagnosis*
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology