Predictors of Posttraumatic Stress Symptom Trajectories Following the Fatal 2011 Christchurch, New Zealand Earthquake

Hannah Jones, Martin J. Dorahy*, Eileen Britt, Amy Rowlands, Charlotte Renouf, Janet D. Carter, Donncha Hanna

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


People respond differently to potentially traumatic events. To explore predictors of a chronic and delayed trajectory of posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) after a natural disaster, we analyzed psychometric data collected from 412 residents of Christchurch, New Zealand after a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck in February 2011. Participants from suburbs with different levels of socioeconomic status (SES) and earthquake impact completed a door-to-door survey 4–7 months after the earthquake (Time 1; N = 600) and again 10–11 months after the earthquake (Time 2; N = 412). The survey included the Acute Stress Disorder Scale, the Patient Health Questionnaire's nine-item Depression subscale, and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder–7 scale, along with single-item measures of variables including aftershock anxiety and family tension. Hobfoll's conservation of resources theory was used to guide data interpretation. High levels of depression, odds ratio (OR) = 1.24, and anxiety, OR = 1.24, at Time 1 significantly predicted membership in the chronic trajectory. Predictors of a delayed onset of symptoms included increased aftershock anxiety, OR = 1.29, and family tension, OR = 1.35, over time, as well as living in an area defined as being of low, OR = 5.36, or medium, OR = 11.39, SES. Results highlight risk factors for elevated PTSS and resources that individuals can use to offset threatened loss. These findings have implications for service providers, agencies, and the public.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)206-214
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Traumatic Stress
Issue number2
Early online date25 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 01 Apr 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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