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Prehosp Disaster Med. 2012 Aug;27(4):359-68. Epub 2012 Jul 19.

Psychological consequences of indirect exposure to disaster due to the Haiti earthquake.

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Center for Disaster & Extreme Event Preparedness (DEEP Center), University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Florida, USA.



Few studies have focused on the mental health consequences of indirect exposure to disasters caused by naturally occurring hazards. The present study assessed indirect exposure to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti among Haitian-Americans now living in Miami; these subjects had no direct exposure to the earthquake, but retained their cultural identity, language, and connection to family and friends in Haiti.


Two months following the earthquake a sample of Haitian-Americans was surveyed inquiring about: (1) their psychological reactions to the quake; (2) types of exposures experienced by their family members and friends in Haiti; and (3) symptom levels of (a) major depression, (b) generalized anxiety disorder, (c) complicated grief, (d) mental health status, and (e) physical health status.


Haitian-Americans living in Miami experienced a broad spectrum of indirect exposures to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. These exposures were strongly associated with psychological distress, trauma-related mental health consequences, and diminished health status. Most notable was the multiplicity of indirect exposures to the on-scene experiences of multiple family members and friends in Haiti.


Consideration should be given to the psychological impact and needs for support among indirectly-exposed populations with strong affiliation to directly-impacted victims.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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