Publicatie datum

The relationship between predisaster psychological problems and health problems after a man-made disaster.

Yzermans, C.J., Dirkzwager, A.J.E., Grievink, L., Velden, P.G. van der. The relationship between predisaster psychological problems and health problems after a man-made disaster. European Journal of Public Health: 2005, 15(Suppl. 1) 108. Abstract. 13th Annual EUPHA Meeting "Promoting the public's health: reorienting health policies, linking health promotion and health care", Graz, 10-12 November 2005.
Background:In May 2000, a fireworks depot exploded in a residential area in The Netherlands,
resulting in 22 deaths and 1200 residents who lost their homes. Most studies on the health
consequences of disasters lack predisaster data. The present study did include actual predisaster
data and aimed to investigate the relationships between victims’ predisaster psychological problems
and their post-disaster functioning. Methods: After the disaster two types of studies were
implemented. Firstly, victims of the fireworks disaster were examined using
self-reportquestionnaires (i.e. Symptom Checklist-90; SF-36) 3 weeks and 18 months after the
disaster. Secondly, a longitudinal monitoring using the electronic medical records of the victims’
general practitioners (GPs) was started. Information on predisaster health status was also
available. Results are presented for victims who filled in both questionnaires and were registered
at the GPs as well (n = 994). Results: Victims presenting psychological problems to their GP in the
year before the disaster reported significantly more post-disaster anxiety, depression, sleeping,
and somatic problems (SCL-90), and they scored worse on social functioning, bodily pain, and general
health (SF-36) when compared with victims without predisaster psychological problems. They also
presented more psychological problems (68 versus 39%; x2 ¼ 32.97, P < 0.001) and musculoskeletal
problems (54 versus 34%; x2 ¼ 17.21, P < 0.001) to their GP in the first year post-disaster.
Conclusions: Victims with predisaster psychological problems appear at risk for both psychological
and physical problems after the disaster. Having predisaster and controlled data is very important
in order to draw correct conclusions regarding the health impact of a disaster and to identify
high-risk groups as soon as possible. (aut.ref.)