Reducing the risk of posttraumatic stress disorder in children following natural disasters

Mohay, Heather A. & Forbes, Nicole (2009) Reducing the risk of posttraumatic stress disorder in children following natural disasters. Australian Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 19(2), pp. 179-195.

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A significant number of children suffer long term psychological disturbance following exposure to a natural disaster. Evidence suggests that a dose-response relationship exists, so that children and adolescents who experience the most intense or extensive exposure to the risk factors for PTSD are likely to develop the most serious and persistent symptoms. Risk factors include gender, age, personality, extent of exposure to the natural disaster, amount of damage to property and infrastructure, witnessing injury or death of others or perceiving a threat to their own life. Knowing these factors enables various strategies to be put in place to decrease the risk of psychological disturbance following the aftermath of traumatic events. Re-establishing a sense of safety, security and normality is important in the aftermath of a natural disaster, and promoting social connectedness, positive family functioning, and effective coping mechanisms can make children more resilient in the face of catastrophic events. This paper examines the risk and protective factors associated with the development of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and considers how schools can use this knowledge to contribute to the recovery effort, and reduce the prevalence of PTSD amongst pupils in the wake of a natural disaster.

Impact and interest:

9 citations in Scopus
6 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 31062
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: The contents of this journal can be freely accessed via the journal's website (see Official URL)
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Natural Disasters, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Children, Risk Factors, School Responses
ISSN: 1037-2911
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Health Promotion (111712)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000) > PSYCHOLOGY (170100) > Health Clinical and Counselling Psychology (170106)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Psychology & Counselling
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2009 Australian Academic Press Pty. Ltd.
Deposited On: 14 Mar 2010 22:23
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2011 14:58

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