Journal of Traumatic Stress

, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 541–556

Social support and psychological symptomatology following a natural disaster

  • Jerome D. Cook
  • Leonard Bickman

DOI: 10.1007/BF02039587

Cite this article as:
Cook, J.D. & Bickman, L. J Trauma Stress (1990) 3: 541. doi:10.1007/BF02039587


The effects of perceived availability of social support on psychological symptomatology following a natural disaster were studied in a sample of victims of a major flood in Roanoke, Virginia. Ninety-six subjects were administered questionnaires that measured self-reported levels of depression, anxiety, and somatization 1 week after the disaster and four additional times within 6 months after the disaster. A questionnaire mailed 3 months after the disaster assessed perceived availability of social support. Results indicated that subjects experienced severe distress immediately following the disaster, that this distress decreased sharply 6 weeks after the flood, and decreased more gradually in the following months. Perceived availability of social support was not related to distress immediately following the disaster nor 5 months afterwards. Social support and symptomatology were significantly correlated during the intermediate period.

Key Words

social support natural disasters longitudinal studies symptoms stress reactions statistical correlation 

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jerome D. Cook
    • 1
  • Leonard Bickman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychology and Human DevelopmentVanderbilt UniversityNashville