Posttraumatic stress disorder six months after an earthquake

Findings from a community sample in a rural region in Italy
  • Stefan PriebeEmail author
  • Iolanda Grappasonni
  • Massimo Mari
  • Michael Dewey
  • Fabio Petrelli
  • Ana Costa


Background and aims

Various studies assessed rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following natural disasters including earthquakes. Yet, samples were often non-representative or small or both. This study aims to assess the prevalence of PTSD and predictors of PTSD 6 months after an earthquake in a rural region of Italy.


A questionnaire was handed out to a representative sample of approximate 3,000 people in the region of Molise in Italy 6 months after an earthquake in October/November 2002. The questionnaire assessed socio-demographic characteristics, aspects of the event, the experience of symptoms immediately after the earthquake, and symptoms of PTSD.


Questionnaires of 2,148 people were returned, representing a response rate of 73.7%. The final analysis was based on 1,680 people. The screening tool provided a PTSD prevalence rate of 14.5%. Male gender, age under 55 years, and better school education predicted lower rates of PTSD. More variance was explained when psychological symptoms of immediately after the event were also included as predictors.


The findings on predictors are consistent with the literature. Whilst personal characteristics explain only a small variance of PTSD six months after the event, early psychological distress allows a better prediction of who is likely to have PTSD 6 months later.


earthquake posttraumatic stress disorder natural disaster community sample 


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Copyright information

© Steinkopff Verlag Darmstadt 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stefan Priebe
    • 1
    Email author
  • Iolanda Grappasonni
    • 2
  • Massimo Mari
    • 3
  • Michael Dewey
    • 1
  • Fabio Petrelli
    • 2
  • Ana Costa
    • 1
  1. 1.Unit for Social and Community Psychiatry, Barts & The London School of Medicine and DentistryQueen Mary University of London, Newham Centre for Mental HealthLondonUK
  2. 2.Dept. of Experimental Medicine and Public Health, Faculty of PharmacyUniversity of CamerinoCamerinoItaly
  3. 3.Dept. of Mental HealthJesiItaly

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