Secondary stressors and extreme events and disasters: a systematic review of primary research from 2010-2011

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This is the first review to develop a typology of secondary stressors following extreme events. Some secondary stressors are entities in themselves, whereas others are primary stressors whose immediate effects have not been mitigated. Future research should focus on defining secondary stressors clearly so we can identify which secondary stressors are most amenable to interventions to reduce their negative impacts.

This systematic review aimed to elucidate the impact of secondary stressors following an extreme event on distress or mental disorders. 32 articles were identified that yielded 11 categories of secondary stressors including: economic stressors such as problems with compensation, recovery of and rebuilding homes; loss of physical possessions and resources; health related stressors; stress relating to education and schooling; stress arising from media reporting; family and social stressors; stress arising from loss of leisure and recreation; and stress related to changes in people’s views of the world or themselves. Included studies were published in 2010-2011 which potentially may have led to certain types of secondary stressors to be excluded. Clear definitions and differentiation of secondary stressors continue to be needed.

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