Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 48, Issue 1, pp 38–45

Causal Thinking After a Tsunami Wave: Karma Beliefs, Pessimistic Explanatory Style and Health Among Sri Lankan Survivors

  • Becca R. Levy
  • Martin D. Slade
  • Padmini Ranasinghe
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10943-008-9162-5

Cite this article as:
Levy, B.R., Slade, M.D. & Ranasinghe, P. J Relig Health (2009) 48: 38. doi:10.1007/s10943-008-9162-5

Abstract

In 2004, one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded led to a tsunami devastating two-thirds of the Sri Lankan coastline. We examined whether certain causal beliefs (attributional style and karma, a Buddhist concept used to explain bad events) are associated with tsunami survivors experiencing PTSD and poor health about six months later. Previous studies of causal beliefs associated with illness following the same traumatic event have focused on Western countries and none have considered the role of karma. We interviewed 264 Sri Lankan tsunami survivors. As predicted, we found that belief in karma and a pessimistic explanatory style are independently associated with poor health and a pessimistic explanatory style is associated with PTSD, after adjusting for relevant factors. Thus, both universal and more culturally specific beliefs may contribute to coping following a natural disaster.

Keywords

KarmaExplanatory styleHealthReligionDisaster

Copyright information

© Blanton-Peale Institute 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Becca R. Levy
    • 1
  • Martin D. Slade
    • 1
  • Padmini Ranasinghe
    • 2
  1. 1.Yale School of Public HealthNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.Johns Hopkins School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA