The impact of disaster work on community volunteers: The role of peri-traumatic distress, level of personal affectedness, sleep quality and resource loss, on post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms and subjective health

Sigridur B. Thormar, Berthold P. R. Gersons, Barbara Juen, Maria Nelden Djakababa, Thorlakur Karlsson, Miranda Olff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle*Academicpeer-review

Abstract

Disaster work has shown to cause PTSD symptoms and subjective health complaints in professional emergency personnel. However, very little is known about how disaster work affects community volunteers. This first time longitudinal study examined factors contributing to post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms (PTSD) and subjective health complaints in volunteers working in an earthquake setting. At six and eighteen months post disaster, a sample of 506 Indonesian Red Cross volunteers were assessed using the Impact of Event Scale-Revised and the Subjective Health Complaints Inventory. Factors analyzed in relation to the outcomes included: peri-traumatic distress, level of personal affectedness by the disaster, sleep quality and loss of resources as a consequence of the disaster. At 18 months post-disaster the findings showed high levels of PTSD symptoms and subjective health complaints. Quality of sleep was related to both outcomes but resource loss only to PTSD symptoms. Neither peri-traumatic distress nor level of affectedness by the disaster (external versus directly affected volunteers), were predictive of symptoms. This study indicates that characteristics of disaster work e.g. low quality of sleep, may be an important contributor to PTSD symptoms and subjective health complaints in volunteers
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)971-977
JournalJournal of anxiety disorders
Volume28
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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