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25-year follow-up of treated and not-treated adolescents after the Spitak earthquake: course and predictors of PTSD and depression

  • Armen K. Goenjian (a1) (a2) (a3), Alan M. Steinberg (a1), David Walling (a2), Sheryl Bishop (a4), Ida Karayan (a3) and Robert Pynoos (a1)...

Abstract

Background

There is a paucity of long-term prospective disaster studies of the psychological sequelae among survivors.

Methods

At 1½ and 25 years after the Spitak earthquake, 142 early adolescents from two cities were assessed: Gumri (moderate–severe exposure) and Spitak (very severe exposure). The Gumri group included treated and not-treated subjects, while the Spitak group included not-treated subjects. Instruments included: DSM-III-R PTSD-Reaction Index (PTSD-RI); DSM-5 PTSD-Checklist (PCL); Depression Self-Rating Scale (DSRS); and Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression Scale (CES-D).

Results

(1) Between 1½ and 25 years, PTSD rates and mean scores decreased significantly in the three groups (over 50%). However, at 25 years 9.1–22.4% met DSM-5 PTSD criteria. (2) At 1½ years, the Spitak group had higher PTSD-RI (p < 0.001) and DSRS scores (p < 0.001) compared to the Gumri-not-treated group. At 25 years, the Spitak group that had experienced fewer post-earthquake adversities (p < 0.03), had a greater decrease in PTSD-RI scores (p < 0.02), and lower CES-D scores (p < 0.01). (3) Before treatment, PTSD-RI and DSRS scores did not differ between the Gumri-treated and not-treated groups. At 25-years, the Gumri-treated group showed a greater decrease in PTSD-RI scores (p < 0.03), and lower mean PTSD-RI (p < 0.02), PCL (p < 0.02), and CES-D (p < 0.01) scores. (4) Predictors of PTSD symptom severity at 25-years included: home destruction, treatment, social support, post-earthquake adversities, and chronic medical illnesses.

Conclusion

Post-disaster PTSD and depressive symptoms can persist for decades. Trauma-focused treatment, alleviation of post-disaster adversities, improving the social ecology, and monitoring for chronic medical illnesses are essential components of recovery programs.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Armen K. Goenjian, E-mail: agoenjia@aol.com

References

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Keywords

25-year follow-up of treated and not-treated adolescents after the Spitak earthquake: course and predictors of PTSD and depression

  • Armen K. Goenjian (a1) (a2) (a3), Alan M. Steinberg (a1), David Walling (a2), Sheryl Bishop (a4), Ida Karayan (a3) and Robert Pynoos (a1)...

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