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Asia Pac Psychiatry. 2013 Jun;5(2):E73-80. doi: 10.1111/appy.12074. Epub 2013 Apr 19.

Characteristics of Wenchuan earthquake victims who remained in a government-supported transitional community.

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  • 1Peking University Institute of Mental Health, Key Laboratory of Ministry of Health, Peking University, Beijing, China.



The Chinese government and provincial authorities built a large number of temporary communities to shelter survivors after the May 2008 Wenchuan earthquake. Most residents left within a few months but others remained. This study describes the characteristics and psychological status of those victims who remained in a government-supported transitional community 12 months post-earthquake compared to residents who departed prior to that time.


Two groups of survivors of Wenchuan earthquake who resided in a transitional community were enrolled: 86 in December 2008 and 151 in February 2009. We assessed their mental distress, symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide risk. Forty-three and 46 members of the two groups, respectively, had departed the transitional community at 1 year post-earthquake.


In both groups, most of the survivors who remained in the community 1 year post-earthquake were older, female, with a lower education level and more serious personal losses. They had scored higher on self-report measures reflecting distressing symptoms and impairment as compared with their departed neighbors, and had a higher prevalence of depression and suicide risk at the time of enrollment.


Survivors who come to live in a transitional community following a disaster are heterogeneous. Remaining survivors were apparently more vulnerable and had a lower capacity to seek work and return to a more self-sustaining life outside the transitional community. Such vulnerable survivors require distinctive strategies for making a successful return to independent living.

Copyright © 2013 Wiley Publishing Asia Pty Ltd.


Wenchuan earthquake; psychological status; transitional community; victims

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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