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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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8 Results

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In order to determine whether tsunami victims are still suffering from traumatic stress symptoms two and a half years after the tsunami, t-tests comparing the mean test scores of the two groups were used. Moreover, to assess the role of protective factors such as SOC, social support, and coping strategies, correla- tion analyses and regression analyses were used. The influence of demographic variables on the extent of traumatic stress was investigated using cross- tabulations. Finally, a path-analysis model explored multiple pathways and me- diating factors. 8.1 Exploratory Factor Analyses In order to find reliable subscales for the five questionnaires used in this study, factor analysis was used for each of the instruments. As the existing subscales were already validated by the respective authors in samples drawn in Western industrialized cultures, it was necessary to find new subscales in accordance with the data of a sample of villagers in Kerala, South India. Through structure- analyzing procedures, the interrelationships between the items of the instru- ments could be identified, and then through data reduction be grouped into di- mensions or factors. A factor is a linear combination or cluster of related ob- served variables that represents a specific underlying dimension of a construct. The factors should be as distinct from each other as possible. The goal of factor analysis is to arrive at a reduced set of factors that summarizes and describes the structural interrelationships between the variables. 8.1.1 A Justification for the Choice of Factor Extrac- tion and Rotation Methods Factor...

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