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J Nerv Ment Dis. 2008 Jan;196(1):55-61. doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e31815fa52e.

Psychosocial determinants of relocation in survivors of the 1999 earthquake in Turkey.

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Section of Trauma Studies, Division of Psychological Medicine, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, University of London, London SE5 8AF, UK.


Large-scale earthquakes in urban areas displace many people from their homes. This study examined the role of conditioned fears in determining survivors' tendency to live in shelters after the 1999 earthquake in Turkey. A total of 1655 survivors living in prefabricated housing compounds or residential units in the epicenter zone were screened using a reliable and valid instrument. Among participants whose houses were rendered uninhabitable during the earthquake 87.7% relocated to shelters, whereas others remained in the community by moving to a new house. In contrast, 38.7% of the participants whose houses were still inhabitable after the earthquake lived in the shelters. Relocation was predicted by behavioral avoidance, material losses, and loss of relatives. These findings suggested that a multitude of factors played a role in survivors' displacement from their houses and the elevated rates of mental health problems could constitute a cause rather than an effect of relocation.

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