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Depress Anxiety. 2009;26(12):1127-33. doi: 10.1002/da.20625.

Psychiatric disorders among disaster bereaved: an interview study of individuals directly or not directly exposed to the 2004 tsunami.

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Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies, 0407 Oslo, Norway.



Few studies have explored the long-term mental health consequences of disaster losses in bereaved, either exposed to the disaster themselves or not. This study examined the prevalence and predictors of mental disorders and psychological distress in bereaved individuals either directly or not directly exposed to the 2004 tsunami disaster.


A cross-sectional study of 111 bereaved Norwegians (32 directly and 79 not directly exposed) was conducted 2 years postdisaster. We used a face-to-face structured clinical interview to diagnose current posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression (major depressive disorder, MDD) and a self-report scale to measure prolonged grief disorder (PGD).


The prevalence of psychiatric disorders was twice as high among individuals directly exposed to the disaster compared to individuals who were not directly exposed (46.9 vs. 22.8 per 100). The prevalence of disorders among the directly exposed was PTSD (34.4%), MDD (25%), and PGD (23.3%), whereas the prevalence among the not directly exposed was PGD (14.3%), MDD (10.1%), and PTSD (5.2%). The co-occurrence of disorders was higher among the directly exposed (21.9 vs. 5.2%). Low education and loss of a child predicted PGD, whereas direct exposure to the disaster predicted PTSD. All three disorders were independently associated with functional impairment.


The dual burden of direct trauma and loss can inflict a complex set of long-term reactions and mental health problems in bereaved individuals. The relationship between PGD and impaired functioning actualizes the incorporation of PGD in future diagnostic manuals of psychiatric disorders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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