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Impact of bereavement among relatives in Italy and Sweden after the Linate airplane disaster
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Medicinska och farmaceutiska vetenskapsområdet, centrumbildningar mm , National Center for Disaster Psychiatry. Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Neuroscience, Psychiatry, Ulleråker, University Hospital.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Medicinska och farmaceutiska vetenskapsområdet, centrumbildningar mm , National Center for Disaster Psychiatry.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Medicinska och farmaceutiska vetenskapsområdet, centrumbildningar mm , National Center for Disaster Psychiatry. Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Neuroscience, Psychiatry, Ulleråker, University Hospital.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Medicinska och farmaceutiska vetenskapsområdet, centrumbildningar mm , National Center for Disaster Psychiatry.
2006 (English)In: International Journal of Disaster Medicine, ISSN 1503-1438, E-ISSN 1755-4713, Vol. 4, no 3, 110-117 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Objectives

Victims of major disasters are at risk for development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The aim of this study was to compare two groups of bereaved relatives from Italy and Sweden, and to examine the role of psychosocial support and psychological reactions 18 months after traumatic bereavement.

Method

153 bereaved relatives of deceased victims in the Milano/Linate air plane crash were assessed through a questionnaire. Reactions of psychological distress were measured by the Impact of Event Scale-Revised (IES-R).

Results

In the total group 53, 2 % showed symptoms indicating that they might meet the DSM-IV criteria for PTSD. The frequency was higher among the Italian relatives (58.7%) compared to the Swedish (42, 6 %). Females compared to males showed more signs of posttraumatic reactions in the total population as did spouses and parents within the Italian group. The general health status, measured by subjective evaluation, was significantly affected in both groups as a result of the disaster. A significant recovery after 18 months was reported, although not to the pre-accident level. The Swedish relatives had a pattern of using more psychotherapy compared to the Italians among whom it was more common to use medication both for anxiety and sleeping problems. The need for psychotherapy and medication was related to higher scores on IES-R.

Conclusions: (1) Traumatic losses deeply affect bereaved relatives. Health is affected and a large group of these relatives develop strong symptoms of post-traumatic stress. (2) Swedish bereaved relatives seem to be more apt to ask for professional help, e.g. psychotherapy, while in Italy it is more common to rely on family, friends and medication. (3) Acute organized psychosocial support in the aftermath can possibly facilitate for victims to handle a traumatic loss but it does not prevent the development of strong post-traumatic reactions. Future investigations may show how it is possible to optimize the help with more specific interventions of support and treatment.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2006. Vol. 4, no 3, 110-117 p.
Keyword [en]
Airplane disaster, bereavement, posttraumatic stress reactions, traumatic grief, general health, psychosocial support, Linate
National Category
Psychiatry
Research subject
Psychiatry; Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-119787DOI: 10.1080/15031430600969034OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-119787DiVA: diva2:300997
Available from: 2010-03-03 Created: 2010-03-02 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Traumatic Exposure, Bereavement and Recovery among Survivors and Close Relatives after Disasters
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Traumatic Exposure, Bereavement and Recovery among Survivors and Close Relatives after Disasters
2010 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

International studies of disasters indicate the risk for developing posttraumatic stress reactions among survivors is high. Modern life implicates increased traveling. During the last decades a large number of Swedish citizens were confronted with disasters taking place outside of their country.

The prevalence of trauma reactions in a population that does not  normally  experience natural disasters, but are able to return to a community unaffected by the catastrophe, is not well studied. In addition, the effects of bereavement after traumatic circumstances have not been satisfactorily explored. Longitudinal studies on the effects of natural disasters are underrepresented and there are few studies investigating the course of recovery after traumatic exposure.

The aim for this thesis was to examine long-term post-traumatic stress reactions, mental health, and complicated grief after disaster exposure and traumatic bereavement.  Data from returned questionnaires were analysed from bereaved Italian and Swedish relatives 18 months after the Linate airplane disaster 2001, and at 14 months and three years from Swedish travelers returning from Southeast Asia after the 2004 tsunami disaster, and from home staying bereaved relatives within the second year after the tsunami disaster. The main outcome measures were GHQ-12, IES-R and Inventory of Complicated Grief.

The findings indicated many survivors were resilient and had ability to recover, but severe exposure to a disaster had considerable impact on psychological distress. Life threat was associated with higher levels of post-traumatic stress reactions, and increased the risk for affected mental health and suicidal ideation. Loss in combination with severe life threat exposure indicated a further increased risk of posttraumatic stress reactions and for complicated grief; this should be considered a substantial risk factor for general mental health. Loss of close relatives, especially loss of children, was associated with higher levels of posttraumatic stress and created a greater risk for complicated grief. Many survivors recovered over time; however, severe exposure and traumatic loss appeared to slow the recovery process. The findings have implications for government and health agencies, regarding the importance of knowledge and awareness of these risks for health, and for organizational structure, training, and accessibility of support and adequate treatment.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2010. 69 p.
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Medicine, ISSN 1651-6206 ; 533
Keyword
Natural disaster, traumatic exposure, life threat, traumatic bereavement, psychological distress, posttraumatic stress reactions, PTSD, general mental health, suicidal ideation, complicated grief, social support, resilience, recovery
National Category
Psychiatry
Research subject
Psychology; Psychiatry
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-120200 (URN)978-91-554-7744-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2010-04-23, Sal X, Universitetshuset, Övre Slottsgatan, Uppsala, 09:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2010-03-31 Created: 2010-03-09 Last updated: 2010-03-31

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Bergh Johannesson, Kerstin

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