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Association between long-term stressors and mental health distress following the 2013 Moore tornado: a pilot study

Lauren A. Clay (Health Services Administration, D’Youville College, Buffalo, New York, USA) (Disaster Research Center, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware, USA)
Alex Greer (College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security, and Cybersecurity, University at Albany State University of New York, Albany, New York, USA)

Journal of Public Mental Health

ISSN: 1746-5729

Article publication date: 11 June 2019

Issue publication date: 18 June 2019

Abstract

Purpose

Stress has considerable impacts on human health, potentially leading to issues such as fatigue, anxiety and depression. Resource loss, a common outcome of disasters, has been found to contribute to stress among disaster survivors. Prior research focuses heavily on clinical mental health impacts of disaster experience, with less research on the effect of cumulative stress during long-term recovery. To address this gap, the purpose of this paper is to examine the influence of stressors including resource loss and debt on mental health in a sample of households in Moore, Oklahoma, impacted by a tornado in 2013.

Design/methodology/approach

For this pilot study, questionnaires were mailed to households residing along the track of the May 2013 tornado in Moore, OK. Descriptive statistics were calculated to report sample characteristics and disaster experience. Independent associations between disaster losses and demographic characteristics with the outcome mental health were examined with χ2 and unadjusted logistic regression analysis. Adjusted logistic regression models were fit to examine resource loss and mental health.

Findings

Findings suggest that the tornado had considerable impacts on respondents: 56.24 percent (n=36) reported that their homes were destroyed or sustained major damage. Greater resource loss and debt were associated with mental health distress during long-term recovery from the Moore, OK, 2013 tornadoes.

Research limitations/implications

The association between resource loss and mental health point to a need for interventions to mitigate losses such as bolstering social support networks, incentivizing mitigation and reducing financial constraints on households post-disaster.

Originality/value

This study contributes to a better understanding of long-term, accumulated stress post-disaster and the impact on health to a literature heavily focused on clinical outcomes.

Keywords

Citation

Clay, L.A. and Greer, A. (2019), "Association between long-term stressors and mental health distress following the 2013 Moore tornado: a pilot study", Journal of Public Mental Health, Vol. 18 No. 2, pp. 124-134. https://doi.org/10.1108/JPMH-07-2018-0038

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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