Measuring exposure in Hurricane Katrina

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There is a small-to-medium positive relationship between disaster exposure severity and post-traumatic stress. Threats to one’s own physical safety as well as threats to the safety of others were most strongly associated with post-traumatic stress.

A meta-analysis of eight studies examined the relationship between exposure to a disaster and post-traumatic stress. Minority status and number of stressors assessed were significant moderators. In an integrative data analysis of five samples from Hurricane Katrina survivors, threat to physical integrity of self and others were found to have the strongest association with post-traumatic stress. Future studies should look into separating different types of disaster-related stress and including currently understudied but significant stressors such as pet loss. Including objective measures could help supplement knowledge coming from self-report data.

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