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Behav Modif. 2002 Apr;26(2):163-86.

Psychological impact of fire disaster on children and their parents.

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Department of Psychology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, USA.


Six weeks following a major wildfire, children's psychosocial functioning was examined. Employing a multimethod assessment approach, the short-term mental health consequences of the fire were evaluated. Individual adjustment was compared between families who reported high levels of loss as a result of the fire (high-loss group) and families who reported relatively low levels of loss resulting from the fire (low-loss group). Standardized assessment procedures were employed for children and adolescents as well as their parents. In general, high-loss participants reported slightly higher levels of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and significantly higher scores on the Impact of Events Scale. PTSD symptoms reported by parents were generally significantly correlated with (but not concordant with) PTSD symptoms reported by their children. The high-loss group scored significantly higher on the Resource Loss Index than did the low-loss group. Preexisting and comorbid disorders and previous stressors are described. A methodological framework for future studies in this area is discussed.

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