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Early Physical Health Consequences of Disaster Exposure and Acute Disaster-Related PTSD


A sample of adults (N = 666) was interviewed 6 months after the devastating 1999 floods and mudslides in Mexico. Comparisons between sample data and population norms pointed to significant postdisaster elevations in physical health symptoms across a variety of domains. With age, gender, and predisaster mental health and living conditions controlled, severity of exposure was related to higher physical symptoms. The effects of severity of exposure dropped out of the equations when postdisaster posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms were taken into account. The effects of acute PTSD on health symptoms were largely, but not completely, accounted for by concurrent depressed affect, with criterion symptoms reflecting intrusion and arousal most likely to show a specific effect. Although previous research examined stressors from the distant past, here the role of PTSD as a mediator of the trauma–health relation was demonstrated with recent disaster exposure and acute PTSD, in a very different population.

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Norris, Fran, Laurie B. Slone, Charlene K. Baker, and Arthur D. Murphy. 2006. "Early Physical Health Consequences of Disaster Exposure and Acute Disaster-Related PTSD." Anxiety, Stress, and Coping 19 (January): 95-110. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10615800600652209?journalCod…

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