The Psychological Impact of the 2011 Christchurch earthquake and subsequent aftershocks

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Objectives: People respond differently to potentially traumatic events. This study systematically examined the psychological impact of fatal February 2011 earthquake in residents of Christchurch, New Zealand.Design/Method: Participants completed a door-to-door survey approximately 6 months after earthquake (Time 1, N=600) and again 11 months after the earthquake (Time 2, N=412). 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 Patient Health Questionnaire, the Generalized Anxiety Disorder Scale, along with single item measures of substance use, earthquake damage and impact, and disruptions in daily life and relationship functioning.Results: 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. Socioeconomic status was directly associated with appraisals of uncontrollability of response to aftershocks. These cognitions were directly related to aftershock anxiety, which heightened general anxiety, depression and acute stress symptoms. Predictors of a delayed onset of symptoms were increased aftershock anxiety (OR: 1.29) and family tension (OR: 1.35) overtime, and living in a low (OR: 5.36) or medium socioeconomic area (OR: 11.39).Conclusions: Average household income makes a unique contributions to earthquake-related distress and dysfunction. Additionally aftershock anxiety was shown to play a significant role in ongoing psychological distress associated with earthquakes. Results highlight risk factors for elevated
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the British Psychological Society
Publication statusAccepted - 01 Apr 2019

Publication series

NameProceedings of the British Psychological Society
ISSN (Print)1350-472X


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