Psychosocial Support during Displacement due to a Natural Disaster: Relationships with Distress in a Lower-Middle Income Country

Citation:

Zahlawi, Tatiana, Amanda B. Roome, Chim W. Chan, Jacqueline J. Campbell, Bev Tosiro, Max Malanga, Markleen Tagaro, Jimmy Obed, Jerry Iaruel, George Taleo, Len Tarivonda, Kathryn M. Olszowy, and Kelsey N. Dancause. 2019. "Psychosocial Support during Displacement due to a Natural Disaster: Relationships with Distress in a Lower-Middle Income Country." International Health 11 (6): 472-9.

Authors: Tatiana Zahlawi, Amanda B. Roome, Chim W. Chan, Jacqueline J. Campbell, Bev Tosiro, Max Malanga, Markleen Tagaro, Jimmy Obed, Jerry Iaruel, George Taleo, Len Tarivonda, Kathryn M. Olszowy, Kelsey N. Dancause

Abstract:

Background: Past studies show relationships between disaster-related displacement and adverse psychosocial health outcomes. The development of psychosocial interventions following displacement is thus increasingly prioritized. However, data from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are lacking. In October 2017, the population of Ambae Island in Vanuatu, a lower-middle income country, was temporarily displaced due to volcanic activity. We analyzed distress among adults displaced due to the event and differences based on the psychosocial support they received. 
 
Methods: Data on experiences during displacement, distress and psychosocial support were collected from 443 adults 2–3 wk after repatriation to Ambae Island. Four support categories were identified: Healthcare professional, Traditional/community, Not available and Not wanted. We analyzed differences in distress by sex and group using one-way ANOVA and generalized linear models. 
 
Results: Mean distress scores were higher among women (1.90, SD=0.97) than men (1.64, SD=0.98) (p<0.004). In multivariate models, psychosocial support group was associated with distress among women (p=0.033), with higher scores among women who reported no available support compared with every other group. Both healthcare professional and traditional support networks were widely used. 
 
Conclusions: Women might be particularly vulnerable to distress during disaster-related displacement in LMICs, and those who report a lack of support might be at greater risk. Both healthcare professional and traditional networks provide important sources of support that are widely used and might help to ameliorate symptoms.

Keywords: developing country, intervention, mental health, Pacific, Psychological distress, psychosocial health

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Climate Displacement, Environment, Environmental Disasters, Gender, Health, Mental Health Regions: Oceania Countries: Vanuatu

Year: 2019

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