, Volume 13, Issue 6, pp 1089-1097

The Relationship Between Quality of Life and Psychiatric Impairment for a Taiwanese Community Post-Earthquake

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This purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between quality of life and psychiatric impairment in a Taiwanese community located near the epicenter of the 1999 earthquake, as assessed four to six months after the natural catastrophe. Trained assistants interviewed the 4223 respondents using the disaster-related psychological screening test (DRPST), an instrument specifically designed and validated by senior psychiatrists for assessment of psychiatric impairment after natural catastrophe. Additionally, the 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36) was used to evaluate quality of life. The collected results were analyzed using Windows SPSS 10.0 software. Psychiatric impairment rated moderate to severe was assessed for 1448 (34.3%) of the responding residents. The 4223 respondents were divided into 4 psychiatric-impairment groups based on DPRST score: healthy (n = 952); mild impairment (n = 1823); moderate impairment (n = 1126); and, severe impairment (n = 322). The four groups were compared for a number of salient factors, including gender, age, current marital status and psychiatric-impairment score, to determine impact on quality of life. Respondents assessed as psychiatrically impaired tended to be older, female, divorced/widowed, and less educated, and they were more likely to have experienced major familial financial loss as an immediate consequence of the earthquake. Further, the greater the severity of the psychiatric impairment, the lower the scores for quality of life, for both the physical and mental aspects of this important general indicator.