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The Association Between Medical Treatment of Physical Diseases and Psychological Distress After the Great East Japan Earthquake: The Shichigahama Health Promotion Project

  • Naoki Nakaya (a1), Tomohiro Nakamura (a1), Naho Tsuchiya (a1), Ichiro Tsuji (a1) (a2), Atsushi Hozawa (a1) and Hiroaki Tomita (a1) (a3)...

Physical disease patients are known to experience high levels of psychological distress. This study examined the association between the medical treatment of physical diseases and psychological distress in the coastal area affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake.


Using cross-sectional data, we studied 3032 individuals aged ≥40 years who lived in Shichigahama, Miyagi, Japan. We examined the associations between 8 medical treatments for physical diseases and psychological distress, defined as Kessler Psychological Distress scale score ≥13 of 24 points. To investigate the associations, we performed multiple logistic regression analyses.


There were statistically significant associations between psychological distress and medical treatments for myocardial infarction/angina pectoris (odds ratio [OR]=1.8, 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.0-3.0) and liver disease (OR=3.1, 95% CI=1.0-7.7). The other 4 medical treatments for physical diseases had ORs of 1.3 or higher and were positively associated with psychological distress: cancer, hyperlipidemia, kidney disease, and diabetes mellitus. The degree of damage to homes did not affect the association between most of the medical treatments for physical diseases and psychological distress.


In the disaster area, most of the medical treatments for physical diseases had positive associations with psychological distress, irrespective of the degree of damage to homes. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2015;9:374–381)

Corresponding author
Correspondence and reprint requests to Naoki Nakaya, PhD, Department of Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology, Tohoku Medical Megabank Organization, Tohoku University, 2-1 Seiryo, Sendai 980-8573, Japan (e-mail:
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Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness
  • ISSN: 1935-7893
  • EISSN: 1938-744X
  • URL: /core/journals/disaster-medicine-and-public-health-preparedness
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