A synthesis of the findings from the Quake Impact Study: a two-year investigation of the psychosocial sequelae of the 1989 Newcastle earthquake

Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 1997 Apr;32(3):123-36. doi: 10.1007/BF00794611.


This paper summarises the major findings from the Quake Impact Study (QIS), a four-phase longitudinal project that was conducted in the aftermath of the 1989 Newcastle (Australia) earthquake. A total of 3,484 subjects participated in at least one component of the QIS, comprising a stratified sample of 3,007 drawn from community electoral rolls and 477 from specially targeted supplementary samples (the injured, the displaced, the owners of damaged businesses, and the helpers). Subjects' initial earthquake experiences were rated in terms of weighted indices of exposure to threat and disruption. Psychological morbidity was measured at each phase using the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) and the Impact of Event Scale (IES). Selected findings and key conclusions are presented for each of six areas of investigation: service utilisation during the first 6 months post-disaster; patterns of earthquake experience and short-term (6-month) psychosocial outcome; earthquake exposure and medium term (2-year) psychosocial outcome; vulnerability factors and medium-term psychosocial outcome; specific community groups at increased risk (e.g., the elderly and immigrants from non-English-speaking backgrounds); the effects of stress debriefing for helpers. Threshold morbidity (i.e., likely caseness) rates are also presented for a broad range of subgroups. In addition to presenting an overview of the QIS, this paper synthesises the major findings and discusses their implications for future disaster management and research from a mental health perspective.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Disaster Planning
  • Disasters*
  • Female
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New South Wales / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Sampling Studies
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology*
  • Time Factors