Pre-typhoon socioeconomic status factors predict post-typhoon psychiatric symptoms in a Vietnamese sample
Exposure to natural disasters has been associated with increased risk for various forms of psychopathology. Evidence indicates that socioeconomic status (SES) may be important for understanding post-disaster psychiatric distress; however, studies of SES-relevant factors in non-Western, disaster-exposed samples are lacking. The primary aim of the current study was to examine the role of pre-typhoon SES-relevant factors in relation to post-typhoon psychiatric symptoms among Vietnamese individuals exposed to Typhoon Xangsane.
In 2006, Typhoon Xangsane disrupted a mental health needs assessment in Vietnam in which the Self Reporting Questionnaire-20 (SRQ-20), and the Demographic and Health Surveys Wealth Index, a measure of SES created for use in low-income countries, were administered pre-typhoon. The SRQ-20 was re-administered post-typhoon.
Results of a linear mixed model indicated that the covariates of older age, female sex, and higher levels of pre-typhoon psychiatric symptoms were associated with higher levels of post-typhoon psychiatric symptoms. Analysis of SES indicators revealed that owning fewer consumer goods, having lower quality of household services, and having attained less education were associated with higher levels of post-typhoon symptoms, above and beyond the covariates, whereas quality of the household build, employment status, and insurance status were not related to post-typhoon psychiatric symptoms.
Even after controlling for demographic characteristics and pre-typhoon psychiatric symptoms, certain SES factors uniquely predicted post-typhoon psychiatric distress. These SES characteristics may be useful for identifying individuals in developing countries who are in need of early intervention following disaster exposure.