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Tsunami in Kerala, India: Long-Term Psychological Distress, Sense of Coherence, Social Support, and Coping in a Non-Industrialized Setting

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Sophia von Lieres

This study assesses the long-term psychological consequences after the 2004 Asian tsunami in Kerala, India. Participants are the inhabitants of Kerala’s coastal regions. The results indicated that the participants who were affected by the tsunami showed significantly greater psychological distress and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than a control group. In addition, it could be shown that protective factors, such as perceived social support, certain coping strategies, and a sense of coherence, could decrease the level of symptoms. Perceived social support, in particular, decreased symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and a strong sense of coherence mitigated psychological distress. Avoidance coping was found to be more effective in decreasing levels of traumatic stress in this non-industrialized, collectivistic cultural setting.

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7 Methods

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In order to verify the first set of hypotheses (Tsunami victims are psychologi- cally more distressed in the long term than non-tsunami victims.), the means of the sum total of the test scores of the control group (no tsunami) and the treat- ment group (tsunami) are compared to determine whether there is a significant difference. Whether a village was affected by the tsunami or not is the inde- pendent variable. The dependent variables are the mean test scores of the ques- tionnaires. The second set of hypotheses (Protective factors such as a sense of coher- ence, perceived social support, and certain coping strategies decrease the extent of traumatization.) will be tested using Pearson’s product moment correlations. This method will highlight the connections between psychological distress and health and protective factors. Finally, a multiple stepwise regression will show which variables contribute the most to the general variance. In addition, the subjects were given a demographic sheet to assess the se- verity of their personal trauma, for example, whether they lost a family mem- ber, their home, or their means of earning a livelihood. The villagers were also questioned about their level of education, age, marital status and other demo- graphic data. In this way, differences between control and treatment group could be ruled out and demographic data, as well as the severity of trauma, could be included in the regression analysis. This provided give insight into why some people are more affected by the trauma than others. Finally, in order to...

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