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Responding to Disasters: More than economic and infrastructure interventions

Published on: 24th April, 2018

OCLC Number/Unique Identifier: 1051150494

Objectives: Natural disasters confront individuals, communities and governments with the challenge of rebuilding and addressing psychosocial sequelae. With the increasing number of natural disasters it is timely to evaluate the efficacy of interventions and strategies to address the mental health needs of individuals and the community. Method: An evaluation of literature related to the psychological impact of natural disasters, treatment efficacy and government strategies to confront the social and psychological impact of natural disasters for the period 1983-2016 was undertaken. Results: Epidemiological studies following natural disasters despite the use of differing psychological measures demonstrate significant psychological morbidity - anxiety (7-42%), complicated grief (28-41%), depression (6.5-38%), post-traumatic stress disorder (11-89%) and substance misuse (1.3-24%). Intervention studies post-disaster demonstrate efficacy variability. Conclusions: The increase in the number and impact of meteorological and hydrological events since the 1980s and the psychological, social and economic consequences of these events has resulted in the development and implementation of government policies to confront the immediate and long-term adverse outcomes. The focus is typically on resources and infrastructure redevelopment with less focus on social and mental health interventions with long-term evaluation of interventions uncommon. The consequence of natural disasters emphasizes the importance developing strategies to ensure effective evaluated psychosocial interventions are available across at-risk communities.
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