Stress during the rebuilding phase influenced mental health following two Queensland flood disasters more than the event itself

Dixon, Kelly M., Shochet, Ian M., & Shakespeare-Finch, Jane (2015) Stress during the rebuilding phase influenced mental health following two Queensland flood disasters more than the event itself. In Australian and New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference, 3-5 May 2015, Broadbeach, Gold Coast, Qld.


It has long been known that disasters can have mental health consequences such as increased rates of PTSD, depression and anxiety. While some research has shown that secondary stressors during the aftermath of a disaster can influence psychological outcomes, this aspect of the disaster experience has not been widely studied. This paper reports on two studies that investigated which aspects of the experience of being flooded were most predictive of mental health outcomes. The first study was a qualitative study of adults whose homes had been inundated in the Mackay flood of 2008 (n=16). Thematic analysis of interviews conducted 18-20 months post-flood found that stressors during the flood aftermath such as difficulties and delays during the rebuilding process and a difficult experience with an insurance company were nominated as the most stressful aspect of the flood by the majority of participants. The second study surveyed Mackay flood survivors three and a half years post-flood, and Brisbane 2011 flood survivors 7-9 months post-flood (n=158). Findings indicated aftermath stress contributed to mental health outcomes over and above the contribution of perceived trauma, objective flood severity, prior mental health, self-efficacy and demographic factors. The implications of these results for the provision of community recovery services following natural disasters are discussed, including the need to provide effective targeting of support services throughout the lengthy rebuilding phase; a possible role for co-ordinating tradespeople; and training for insurance company staff aimed at minimising the incidence of insurance company staff inadvertently adding to disaster victims’ stress.

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ID Code: 84338
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Disasters, Mental health, PTSD, Depression, Stress
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Mental Health (111714)
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 2015 [Please consult the author]
Deposited On: 20 May 2015 03:43
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2015 08:27

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