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Psychological distress among tsunami refugees from the Great East Japan earthquake

  • Robin Goodwin (a1), Masahito Takahashi (a2), Shaojing Sun (a3) and Menachem Ben-Ezra (a4)
Abstract
Background

The 2011 Great Japan tsunami and nuclear leaks displaced 300 000 people, but there are no large studies of psychological distress suffered by these refugees.

Aims

To provide a first assessment of major factors associated with distress and dysfunctional behaviour following the disasters.

Method

All refugee families living in Miyagi were sent a questionnaire 10–12 months after the disasters. 21 981 participants (73%) returned questionnaires. Questions assessed psychological distress (Kessler Psychological Distress Scale, K6), dysfunctional behaviours, demographics, event exposure, change in physical activity, household visitors and emotional support.

Results

Nine percent scored 13+ on the K6 indicating risk of severe mental illness. Psychological distress was greater among Fukushima refugees. Demographic variables, family loss, illness history and change in physical activity were associated with psychological distress and dysfunctional behaviours. Associations between psychological distress and dysfunction and visitors/supporters depended on relation to supporter.

Conclusions

Practitioners need to recognise existing disease burden, community histories and family roles when intervening following disasters.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Corresponding author
Professor Robin Goodwin, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK. Email: robin.goodwin@warwick.ac.uk
Footnotes
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Declaration of interest

None.

Footnotes
References
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Psychological distress among tsunami refugees from the Great East Japan earthquake

  • Robin Goodwin (a1), Masahito Takahashi (a2), Shaojing Sun (a3) and Menachem Ben-Ezra (a4)
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