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Archives of Women's Mental Health

, Volume 22, Issue 6, pp 825–829 | Cite as

Psychosocial distress among women following a natural disaster in a low- to middle-income country: “healthy mothers, healthy communities” study in Vanuatu

  • Alysa PomerEmail author
  • Giavana Buffa
  • Marie-Belle Ayoub
  • Fasiah Taleo
  • J. Hunter Sizemore
  • Apisai Tokon
  • Chim W. Chan
  • Akira Kaneko
  • Jimmy Obed
  • Jerry Iaruel
  • George Taleo
  • Len Tarivonda
  • Kelsey N. Dancause
Short Communication

Abstract

Natural disasters have major consequences for mental health in low- and middle-income countries. Symptoms are often more pronounced among women. We analyzed patterns and predictors of distress among pregnant and non-pregnant women 3–4 and 15–16 months after a cyclone in Vanuatu, a low- to middle-income country. Distress levels were high among both pregnant and non-pregnant women, although pregnant women showed lower longer-term symptoms. Low dietary diversity predicted greater distress, which could affect women even in villages with little cyclone damage.

Keywords

Pregnancy Pacific PTSD Developing country Low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The “Healthy Mothers, Healthy Communities” project grew out of our collaborations with the Health Transition in Vanuatu research team, led by Ralph Garruto and J. Koji Lum (Binghamton University), and the Stress in Pregnancy International Research Alliance, led by Suzanne King (McGill University). We are deeply appreciative to the local malaria team, who continue to allow us to work alongside them in the outer islands, including Harry Iata, James Yaviong, Morris Kalkoa, and Sam Yamar. We are grateful to the women in the Vila Central Market who helped distribute questionnaires; Christiane Damassing for her assistance with recruitment; Alek Buffa, who helped with data collection; and those women in each of the villages who completed the survey themselves, then encouraged and aided their peers to complete the survey as well. Thanks to Harold Neel for his continued local support; without which, this study would not have been possible.

Funding

Supported by funds from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, the Natural Hazards Center, and the Faculté des sciences of the Université du Québec à Montréal. Kelsey Dancause was supported by a salary award from the Fonds de recherche du Québec - Santé while working on this project.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committees and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alysa Pomer
    • 1
    Email author
  • Giavana Buffa
    • 2
  • Marie-Belle Ayoub
    • 3
  • Fasiah Taleo
    • 4
  • J. Hunter Sizemore
    • 5
  • Apisai Tokon
    • 4
  • Chim W. Chan
    • 6
  • Akira Kaneko
    • 6
    • 7
    • 8
  • Jimmy Obed
    • 4
  • Jerry Iaruel
    • 4
  • George Taleo
    • 4
  • Len Tarivonda
    • 4
  • Kelsey N. Dancause
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Chronic Disease EpidemiologyYale School of Public HealthNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.Ross University School of MedicinePortsmouthDominica
  3. 3.Départment des sciences de l’activité physiqueUniversité du Québec à MontréalMontréalCanada
  4. 4.Ministry of HealthPort VilaVanuatu
  5. 5.Peace Corps VanuatuPort VilaVanuatu
  6. 6.Department of Parasitology, Graduate School of MedicineOsaka City UniversityOsakaJapan
  7. 7.Island Malaria Group, Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology (MTC)Karolinska InstitutetStockholmSweden
  8. 8.Institute of Tropical MedicineNagasaki UniversityNagasakiJapan

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