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Ann Emerg Med. 2007 May;49(5):590-601, 601.e1-12. Epub 2007 Mar 30.

Health status among internally displaced persons in Louisiana and Mississippi travel trailer parks.

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1
International Medical Corps, Department of Evidence-Based Research, Washington, DC 20006, USA.

Abstract

STUDY OBJECTIVE:

We used a global humanitarian aid perspective to assess basic needs, women's health, mental health, and opinions about the status of internally displaced persons living in travel trailer parks to inform recovery efforts for this population.

METHODS:

This was a systematic randomized survey of 366 internally displaced persons, conducted with structured questionnaires. The study setting was commercial and group travel trailer parks in Louisiana and Mississippi. Information was gathered about respondent demographics, food security, basic needs, domestic and sexual violence, security concerns, reproductive health, mental health, morbidity, mortality, health care assessment, substance use, and opinions about internally displaced persons and social status.

RESULTS:

Respondents were 45.9 (standard deviation 0.8) years of age on average and were mostly white (62%) in Mississippi and mostly black (65%) in Louisiana. Shelter, transportation, security, and lack of financial means were listed as the worst problems since displacement. Sixteen percent of respondents reported not having enough drinking water, and only 13% of those living in counties and parishes under boil orders were doing so. More than half of households reported an ill adult or child in the previous 2 months. The number of parents reporting problems getting children to school more than tripled after displacement. Intimate partner violence rates postdisplacement were 3 times higher than US baseline rates. Fifty percent of respondents met criteria for major depression. Suicide completion rates after displacement were more than 14 times the baseline rates, and attempt rates were more than 78 times baseline.

CONCLUSION:

The health burdens identified present a formidable challenge for the health infrastructures in Louisiana and Mississippi without outside assistance. Those planning and leading recovery efforts must understand internally displaced persons in a more global context and tailor programming that follows well-developed international models of rights-based care.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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