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Psychiatry. 2009 Summer;72(2):195-210. doi: 10.1521/psyc.2009.72.2.195.

Social and psychological resources associated with health status in a representative sample of adults affected by the 2004 Florida hurricanes.

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  • 1National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston 29425, USA.


Overall health status after a disaster may be associated with long-term physical morbidity and mortality. Little is known about factors associated with overall health status in the aftermath of disasters. We examined self-rated health in relation to disaster characteristics, social resources, and post-disaster outcomes in a sample of adults who experienced the 2004 Florida hurricanes. We interviewed a representative sample of 1,452 adults aged 18 years and older residing in the 33 Florida counties that were in the direct path of at least one of the 2004 hurricanes (Charley, Frances, Ivan, Jeanne). Overall health status was assessed using a self-rating format known to be predictive of mortality. Poor self-rated health was endorsed by 14.6% of the sample. Final multivariable models showed that poor self-rated health was associated with older age (p < 0.001), extreme fear during the hurricane (p = 0.03), low social support (p = 0.03), and depression (p = 0.003) since the hurricane. Self-rated health following the Florida hurricanes was strongly associated with two variables (social support and depression) that potentially can be mitigated through targeted interventions after disasters. Future work should evaluate secondary prevention strategies that can address general health-related concerns in the wake of a disaster.

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