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Disasters. 2019 Jul;43(3):555-574. doi: 10.1111/disa.12377.

Mental health and media links based on five essential elements to promote psychosocial support for victims: the case of the earthquake in Chile in 2010.

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Full Professor in the Faculty of Communications, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Chile.
Member of the Trauma and Dissociation Unit in the Department of Psychiatry, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, and an Associated Researcher at the Research Center for Integrated Disaster Risk Management (CIGIDEN), Chile.
Assistant Professor at the Department of Engineering Science, Universidad Andres Bello, and a Researcher at CIGIDEN, Chile.
PhD student in the Department of Communication, University of California, Davis, United States.
PhD student and an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Communications, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Chile.


This paper reviews the role of news with respect to the mental health of a population exposed to a disaster. It is based on the five essential elements of psychosocial care presented by Stevan E. Hobfoll et al. (2007) that can be introduced after a potentially traumatic event: promoting a sense of safety, calming, self and collective efficacy, connectedness, and hope. This study developed a method to relate these elements to television coverage and applied it to the stories (n=1,169) aired by the main networks in Chile in the 72 hours after an 8.8 magnitude earthquake struck on 27 February 2010. Of the five elements, promoting a sense of safety occurred most often (82.72 per cent), whereas the others were barely present (less than 10 per cent). The study argues that these elements can increase the possibility of framing the news, given that the audience watching can also be affected by a disaster.


Chile; disaster response; earthquake; journalism; media; mental health; television; tsunami

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