Predictors of long-term mental health outcomes among Hurricane Katrina survivors
The stress and trauma exposure associated with disasters can lead to mental health problems. Studies have indicated a high prevalence of mental health problems among Hurricane Katrina survivors, in general, with worse mental health outcomes among survivors located in the New Orleans Metropolitan area as compared to those in other affected areas. Furthermore, in comparison to previous disaster research that typically shows decreases in mental health problems two years following disaster, the Katrina literature indicates continually elevated levels of mental health problems for this time frame. The proposed study examines the long-term mental health outcomes among Hurricane Katrina adult survivors residing in the metropolitan New Orleans area, two years after the storm. Specifically, the present study explores whether evacuation status and other hurricane-related stressors (length of displacement, neighborhood damage, and property damage) are related to symptoms of anxiety, depression, and hostility. The present study advances current knowledge by examining exposure to hurricane-related stressors, a broader range of mental health outcomes, and whether the relationship between the hurricane-related variables and mental health outcomes are moderated by income. The findings suggest that while evacuation status and hurricane-related stressors are not directly related to increased mental health symptoms, evacuation status is related to increased symptoms for those of low-income. Additionally, both age and gender predicted poor mental health outcomes.