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J Psychiatr Res. 2004 May-Jun;38(3):313-22.

Full and partial PTSD among earthquake survivors in rural Taiwan.

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Institute of Medicine, Chung Shan Medical University and Department of Psychiatry, Chung Shan Medical Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan.


In 1999, a major earthquake struck central Taiwan. Ten months after the earthquake, survivors were surveyed to examine the background factors of demographics and exposure that are associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and subthreshold posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSS) and to investigate the relationships between other psychiatric problems and PTSD and PTSS following the earthquake. Subjects (n=252) randomly selected from two rural communities near the epicenter of the earthquake were interviewed to obtain the following information: demographic characteristics; extent of earthquake exposure; severity of posttraumatic stress symptoms; other psychiatric morbidity; and other morbidity-related factors, including general mental health, disability, stress vulnerability, social support, and wellbeing. Three diagnostic groups were identified with regard to trauma-related symptoms: full PTSD, partial PTSD (PTSS), and non-PTSD. Prevalence rates were calculated and bivariate and multivariate comparisons adjusted for age, sex and education were performed. The prevalence rates for PTSD (n=26) and PTSS (n=48) were 10.3% and 19.0%, respectively. The PTSD and PTSS groups differed significantly from non-PTSD on most variables, with greater likelihood of the following: female gender; total trauma exposure; generalized anxiety disorder; suicidality; any other axis I disorder; general psychopathology, disability; and impaired wellbeing. Few differences were observed between the PTSD and PTSS groups, although greater likelihood for major depression, trauma-related loss of life, and impaired stress vulnerability were noted in the PTSD group. In conclusion, PTSD and PTSS are commonly observed following earthquake exposure and are associated with similarly high levels of psychosocial impairment.

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