Adult and children in the tsunami-affected areas in Thailand have elevated rates of mental health problems such as symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder and depression up to 9 months after the disaster, according to two studies in the August 2 issue of JAMA, a theme issue on violence and human rights.
On December 26, 2004, a massive undersea earthquake northwest of Sumatra, Indonesia, caused a giant ocean shockwave or tsunami that devastated the shorelines of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, and many other countries. More than 200,000 individuals are estimated to have died from the tsunami, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in history. In Thailand, the tsunami severely affected all 6 southwestern provinces, where 5,395 individuals died, 2,991 were unaccounted for, and 8,457 were injured, according to background information in the article.
Previous assessments among survivors of natural disasters have shown that posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health problems are common. Thailand does not have a history of natural disasters and the prevalence of PTSD among individuals exposed to traumatic events has not been assessed previously. Understanding post-tsunami mental health indicators is essential for identifying vulnerable populations and developing culturally specific mental health interventions.
Frits van Griensven, Ph.D., of the Thailand Ministry of Public Health - U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Collaboration, Nonthaburi, Thailand, and colleagues with the Thailand Post-Tsunami Mental Health Study Group, assessed the prevalence of symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, and depression and associated factors among random samples of displaced and nondisplaced persons in the three Thai provinces of Phang Nga, Krabi, and Phuket, which were the most severely affected by the tsunami. The population-based mental health survey was conducted from February 15 to 22, 2005, of displaced (n = 371
Contact: Barbara Lopes Cardozo, M.D., M.P.H.
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