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Impact of Hurricane Katrina on Mental Health among US Adults

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Objectives: Hurricane Katrina was an intense tropical cyclone that made landfall in the United States (US) in August 2005, causing catastrophic damage in several states. This study examined the impact of Hurricane Katrina on mental health status among US adults. Methods: Multilevel regressions based on the difference-in-differences study design were performed on individual-level data (N = 70,267) retrieved from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System 2004-2006 surveys. Results: Hurricane Katrina was found to be associated with an increase of 0.68 poor mental health days among residents of Katrina-affected states. The negative impact of Hurricane Katrina on mental health status tended to be larger among Louisiana residents, women, young and middle-aged adults, lower income respondents, and those with poor/fair self-rated physical health than among Mississippi residents, men, older adults, higher income respondents, and those with good/excellent self-rated physical health. Conclusion: Hurricane Katrina adversely impacted mental health of residents in Katrina-affected states, and the impact differed across population subgroups. Future studies should investigate other potential risk and protective factors for the mental health consequences of disasters. They should examine long-term impacts on mental health following disasters to better inform population-based mental health interventions for disaster survivors.
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Keywords: BEHAVIORAL RISK FACTOR SURVEILLANCE SYSTEM (BRFSS); DIFFERENCE-IN-DIFFERENCES; DISASTER; FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY (FEMA); HURRICANE KATRINA; MENTAL HEALTH

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Ruopeng An, Brown School, Washington University, St. Louis, MO 2: Yingjie Qiu, Research Assistant, School of Economics and Resource Management, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China;, Email: [email protected] 3: Xiaoling Xiang, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 4: Mengmeng Ji, PhD Candidate, Department of Kinesiology and Community Health, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL 5: Chenghua Guan, Professor, School of Economics and Resource Management, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China

Publication date: November 1, 2019

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  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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