Association between Long-Term Stressors and Mental Health Distress Following the Moore, 2013 Tornadoes: A Pilot Study

Friday, 20 July 2018: 09:15
Oral Presentation
Lauren CLAY, D'Youville College, USA, Disaster Research Center, USA
Alex GREER, Oklahoma State University, USA
Resource loss is a common outcome of disasters among affected households, contributing to stress and negatively impacting human health. Research in this area, however, focuses heavily on clinical mental health impacts of disaster experience, with less research on cumulative stress during long-term recovery. This study uses COR theory to examine the influence of stressors including resource loss, debt, and social support on mental health in a sample of households in Moore, OK, impacted by an EF5 tornado in 2013. Questionnaires were mailed to 750 households residing along the track of the May 2013 tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, 71 surveys were completed and returned. Descriptive statistics were performed to describe sample characteristics and disaster experience, unadjusted logistic regression models computed, and odd ratios are reported. In general, respondents were heavily impacted by the tornado, 56.24 percent reported that their homes were destroyed or sustained major damage. Consistent with COR theory, resource loss, debt, personal characteristics, energies, and conditions losses were all risk factors for mental health distress in this sample. There was no significant relationship found between objects lost and mental health distress. Additionally, this study added measures of social support and household constraint that are not covered by COR but prior studies suggest contribute to mental health distress. Findings suggest that low social support and reporting at least one constraint meeting household basic needs (food, transportation, rent, or utilities) are significantly related to mental health distress. These findings highlight a need for broader types of services to respond to mental health following disasters such as services that aid families in navigating new financial situations or for managing debt or public health interventions that target bolstering social support or other types of resources lost to mitigate mental health distress.