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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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9 Overview on the Confirmation of or Contradiction to the Hypotheses

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The following chapter shall give an overview on whether or not and to what extent the hypotheses could be confirmed. Hypothesis 1 “Tsunami victims show higher rates of PTSD (assessed with the Impact of Event Scale-Revised (IES-R) by Weiss and Marmar (1996)) than non-tsunami victims two and a half years after the tsunami” and 2 “Tsunami victims show higher rates of general psychological distress (assessed with the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI) by Derogatis (1993)) than non-tsunami victims two and a half years after the tsunami” were confirmed, as the tsunami–affected group shows significantly higher overall scores on both the IES-R and BSI. In the IES-R, both “intrusion/arousal” and “avoidance” subscales showed signifi- cant differences, whereas in the BSI, only the subscale “anxie- ty/depression/somatization” was significantly higher in the tsunami-affected group. The other subscales “hostility” and “interpersonal sensitivity” did not show any significant differences between the two groups. Moreover, significant differences in prevalence rates existed between the two groups: in the tsunami- affected group, 74.9 percent, and in the not affected group, 35.5 percent were suffering from clinically significant PTSD. Hypothesis 3 “There is a negative correlation between Antonovsky’s Sense of Coherence (SOC) (Antonovsky, 1987) and the level of PTSD” was only partly confirmed. SOC was negatively correlated with the IES-R score, but not significantly. However, SOC was significantly negatively correlated with the “intrusion/arousal” subscale of the IES-R, but not the “avoidance” subscale. Furthermore, SOC was significantly negatively correlated with the BSI total score. Hypothesis 4 “There is a negative...

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