The tsunami, then and three years after.
Oosterom, I.H. van
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Introduction. December the 26th 2004 a massive undersea earthquake northwest of Sumatra, Indonesia, with a Richter-scale magnitude of 9.3, caused a giant shockwave or tsunami that devastated the shorelines of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, and many other countries (van Griensven et al., 2006). Thousands of people from all over the world were reported missing or dead. Besides the enormous death toll, other far-reaching consequences followed. It is important to raise the awareness of psychological consequences resulting from major trauma. With insight in these consequences there can be anticipated upon obstacles in psychological aid. Theoretical background. Psychological consequences of natural disasters have been studied extensively. The most notably measured psychological problem was posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Exposure, seen as one of the most influencing factors in developing PTSD is investigated. The central question raised in the research is: Do individuals who are exposed more severely to the tsunami have more PTSD-symptoms and how strong is the possible relationship between exposure and symptoms after three years? Method. Starting the study first qualitative research was done. With use of TISEI-internetquestionnaires (www.tisei.org) the focus of the study was on PTSD-symptoms among Dutch survivors who were present in one of the affected regions at the time of the tsunami or were indirectly influenced by it. Participants at T1 were 28 Dutch males (38,4%) and 45 Dutch females (61,6%). At T2 (three years after the tsunami) participants were 15 Dutch males (40,1%) and 22 Dutch females (59,6%). For measuring exposure, questions that revealed a form of exposure to the tsunami on the TISEI-website were used. A factoranalysis was conducted which revealed at T1 two factors, which were not replicated at T2. Davidson Trauma Scale (DTS) was used to assess PTSD symptoms cross-sectionally. Regressionanalysis were used to assess the relationship between exposure and the DTS. Results. DTS scores differed significantly at T1 (M= 72,2055) and T2 (M= 57,2432). Cluster D of PTSD revealed the highest mean, at T1 and at T2. At T1 (N= 73) 30 persons scored above 80, the cut-off score for diagnosing PTSD. This was 41,1% of the sample. At T2 (N=37) 5 persons or 13,5% of the sample could be diagnosed with PTSD. Discussion. The recent study has found no significant difference in levels of exposure to the tsunami and its relationship with PTSD symptoms. This outcome applies for the T1-group, as well as for the T2-group. An appreciable descending trend is visible in PTSD symptoms over time, although the groups cannot be compared. Participants at T1 had a mean score of 72.21 on the DTS. 41.1% had PTSD symptoms. Three years after the disaster - at T2 – the mean score was 57.24. 13.5% of the individuals showed PTSD symptoms.