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Risk of Social Isolation Among Great East Japan Earthquake Survivors Living in Tsunami-Affected Ishinomaki, Japan

  • Machiko Inoue (a1), Shoko Matsumoto (a2), Kazue Yamaoka (a2) and Shinsuke Muto (a3)

The Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami affected approximately 53 000 people in the city of Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture. Approximately 30 000 people were relocated to temporary/rental housing. The remainder re-inhabited tsunami-affected houses, and their conditions were not known. As social isolation could affect physical and psychological health, we investigated the risk of social isolation among the survivors who returned to their homes.


The surveyors went door-to-door to the tsunami-affected houses and interviewed each household between October 2011 and March 2012. The participants’ risk of social isolation was assessed using 3 factors: whether they have (1) friends to talk with about their problems, (2) close neighbors, and (3) social/family interactions. We analyzed the groups at risk of social isolation and identified the related factors.


The elderly (older than age 65 years) were more likely to have close neighbors and social/family interactions, as compared with younger persons. Persons living alone were less likely to have social/family interactions. Non-elderly men who were living alone were the highest proportion of people without social/family interactions.


Our findings suggested that men, particularly those younger than age 65 years and living alone, were at high risk of social isolation and may need attention. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2014;0:1-8)

Corresponding author
Correspondence and reprint requests to Machiko Inoue, MD, MPH, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Hamamatsu University School of Medicine, 1-20-1, Handayama, Higashi-ku, Hamamatsu, 431-3192, Japan (e-mail:
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Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness
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