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The impact of Hurricane Sandy on the mental health of New York area residents

Rebecca M. Schwartz, PhD, Cristina Sison, PhD, Samantha M. Kerath, MS, Lisa Murphy, BA, Trista Breil, MA, Daniel Sikavi, Emanuela Taioli, MD, PhD

Abstract


Objective: To evaluate the long-term psychological impact of Hurricane Sandy on New York residents.

Design: Prospective, cross-sectional study.

Setting: Community-based study.

Participants: From October 2013 to February 2015, 669 adults in Long Island, Queens, and Staten Island completed a survey on their behavioral and psychological health, demographics, and hurricane impact (ie, exposure).

Main outcome measures: Depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Results: Using multivariable logistic regression models, the relationships between Hurricane Sandy exposure and depression, anxiety, and PTSD were examined. Participants experienced an average of 3.9 exposures to Hurricane Sandy, most of which were related to property damage/loss. Probable depression was reported in 33.4 percent of participants, probable anxiety in 46 percent, and probable PTSD in 21.1 percent. Increased exposure to Hurricane Sandy was significantly associated with a greater likelihood of depression (odds ratio [OR] = 1.09, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.04-1.14), anxiety (OR = 1.08, 95% CI: 1.03-1.13), and probable PTSD (OR = 1.32, 95% CI: 1.23-1.40), even after controlling for demographic factors known to increase susceptibility to mental health issues.

Conclusions: Individuals affected by Hurricane Sandy reported high levels of mental health issues and were at an increased risk of depression, anxiety, and PTSD in the years following the storm. Recovery and prevention efforts should focus on mental health issues in affected populations.


Keywords


Hurricane Sandy, mental health, New York residents

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5055/ajdm.2015.0216

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