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The Immediate Physical and Mental Health Crisis in Residents Proximal to the Evacuation Zone After Japan's Nuclear Disaster: An Observational Pilot Study

  • Masaharu Tsubokura (a1), Kazuo Hara (a2), Tomoko Matsumura (a1), Amina Sugimoto (a3), Shuhei Nomura (a3), Masamitsu Hinata (a4), Kenji Shibuya (a3) and Masahiro Kami (a1)...

The 2011 earthquake and Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan have had devastating effects on residents near the damaged nuclear power plant, but quantifying its effect on their health has been difficult.


Among the 564 residents of Iitate Village and Soma City who enrolled in this study, we evaluated the changes of clinical parameters in 155 participants who underwent annual health evaluations in the previous year and after the earthquake. Psychological distress was also measured by using patient health questionnaire 9 (PHQ-9).


Participants (median age, 64 years) showed significant post-disaster increases in body weight, body mass index, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and triglyceride levels. PHQ-9 scores of 10 or greater were found in 12% of the subjects, indicating that a substantial number had major depression.


The findings in this study showed substantial deterioration in clinical parameters related to lifestyle diseases and the presence of general psychological distress among residents living near the damaged nuclear power plant after the Fukushima Daiichi disaster. In addition to controlling the levels of radiation exposure, aggressive management of immediate physical and mental health crisis for residents may be necessary in future nuclear accidents. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2014;0:1–7)

Corresponding author
Correspondence and reprint requests to Masaharu Tsubokura, MD, Division of Social Communication System for Advanced Clinical Research, Institute of Medical Science, University of Tokyo, 4-6-1, Shirokanedai, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-8639, 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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