, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 589-600,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 15 Jan 2011

Natural Disaster and Risk of Psychiatric Disorders in Puerto Rican Children


We examined the persistence of psychiatric disorders at approximately 18 and 30 months after a hurricane among a random sample of the child and adolescent population (4–17 years) of Puerto Rico. Data were obtained from caretaker-child dyads (N = 1,886) through in person interviews with primary caretakers (all children) and youth (11–17 years) using the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children IV in Spanish. Logistic regressions, controlling for sociodemographic variables, were used to study the relation between disaster exposure and internalizing, externalizing, or any disorder. Children’s disaster-related distress manifested as internalizing disorders, rather than as externalizing disorders at 18 months post-disaster. At 30 months, there was no longer a significant difference in rates of disorder between hurricane-exposed and non-exposed youth. Results were similar across age ranges. Rates of specific internalizing disorders between exposed and unexposed children are provided. Research and clinical implications are discussed.