Socioeconomic status, damage-related conditions, and PTSD following the Fukushima-daiichi nuclear power plant accident:The Fukushima Health Management Survey

Shiga, T.; Zhang, W.; Ohira, T.; Suzuki, Y.; Maeda, M.; Mashiko, H.; Yabe, H.; Iwasa, H.; Nakano, H.; Yasumura, S.; Kamiya, K.

Fukushima Journal of Medical Science 67(2): 71-82

2021


ISSN/ISBN: 0016-2590
PMID: 34456222
Accession: 072552615

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Abstract
The Great East Japan Earthquake severely damaged the Tohoku and Kanto districts, and Fukushima Prefecture faced a subsequent nuclear disaster. Few studies have reported the effects of socioeconomic stressors on individuals' mental status following disasters. We analyzed the responses of 60,704 adult residents of a designated restricted area to the PTSD Checklist-Stressor-Specific Version (PCL-S). The relationships between the PCL-S scores and demographic, socioeconomic, and damage-related variables were analyzed using regression analysis to predict participants' severity of PTSD symptoms. Approximately 14.1% of evacuees had severe PTSD symptoms (PCL-S ≥50) eighteen months post-earthquake. The PCL-S scores were higher among women, older adults, less educated people, those with a history of mental illness, and those living outside Fukushima Prefecture. The PCL-S scores increased with participants' scores on the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale. The number of trauma-exposure stressors and socioeconomic stressors were associated with 1.52 and 3.77 increases in the PCL-S score, respectively. Furthermore, psychological distress, unemployment, decreased income, house damage, tsunami experience, nuclear power plant accident experience, and loss of someone close due to the disaster were associated with the prevalence of severe PTSD symptoms. The complex triple disaster of a major earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear accident created significant socioeconomic changes that may be important determinants of PTSD among residents of restricted access areas in Fukushima.