Post-traumatic stress, depression and anxiety symptoms are common outcomes following earthquakes, and may persist for months and years. This study systematically examined the impact of neighbourhood damage exposure and average household income on psychological distress and functioning in 600 residents of Christchurch, New Zealand, 4–6 months after the fatal February, 2011 earthquake. Participants were from highly affected and relatively unaffected suburbs in low, medium and high average household income areas. The assessment battery included the Acute Stress Disorder Scale, the depression module of the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder Scale (GAD-7), along with single item measures of substance use, earthquake damage and impact, and disruptions in daily life and relationship functioning. Controlling for age, gender and social isolation, participants from low income areas were more likely to meet diagnostic cut-offs for depression and anxiety, and have more severe anxiety symptoms. Higher probabilities of acute stress, depression and anxiety diagnoses were evident in affected versus unaffected areas, and those in affected areas had more severe acute stress, depression and anxiety symptoms. An interaction between income and earthquake effect was found for depression, with those from the low and medium income affected suburbs more depressed. Those from low income areas were more likely, post-earthquake, to start psychiatric medication and increase smoking. There was a uniform increase in alcohol use across participants. Those from the low income affected suburb had greater general and relationship disruption post-quake. Average household income and damage exposure made unique contributions to earthquake-related distress and dysfunction.
|Number of pages||18|
|Journal||British Journal of Psychology|
|Early online date||30 Sep 2014|
|Publication status||Published - Aug 2015|
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