Post-Disaster Mental Health Problems and the Utilization of Mental Health Services: A Four-year Longitudinal Comparative Study

  • Peter G. Van der VeldenEmail author
  • Linda Grievink
  • Rolf J. Kleber
  • Annelieke N. Drogendijk
  • Albert-Jan R. Roskam
  • Frans G. H. Marcelissen
  • Miranda Olff
  • Mariel L. Meewisse
  • Berthold P. R. Gersons

This study examined mental health problems and mental health services (MHS) utilization after a fireworks disaster among adult survivors and a comparison group. The disaster took place on May 13, 2000, in the city of Enschede, The Netherlands. Victims (N=662) participated in a survey 2–3 weeks (T1), 18 months (T2) and 4 years (T3) post-disaster. The comparison group consisted of non-affected people from another city (N=526). They participated at T2 and T3. Victims used MHS more often than the comparison group in the 12-month period before T2 and T3 (OR 3.9 and 2.4). Victims with severe depression and anxiety symptoms at T2 used MHS more often than participants in the comparison group with these symptoms (OR 2.6 and 2.0). After 4 years, MHS utilization among participants in both groups with anxiety symptoms did not differ, suggesting attenuation of the observed effects. Results suggest that after a disaster survivors with mental health problems are less reluctant to use MHS than under normal circumstances.


anxiety depression disaster mental health services post-traumatic stress disorder 



The Enschede Fireworks Disaster Health Study was conducted on behalf of the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports. We thank Sasja Dorresteijn and Berdi Christiaanse for their contribution to the second and third survey. We thank Rebecca Stellato of the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) for her contribution to the three surveys. We thank Ellen Janzing (certified translator) and Rebecca Stellato (native speaker) for correcting the English in the final manuscript. We are grateful for the cooperation of the residents who participated in the surveys.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter G. Van der Velden
    • 1
    • 5
    Email author
  • Linda Grievink
    • 2
  • Rolf J. Kleber
    • 1
    • 3
  • Annelieke N. Drogendijk
    • 1
  • Albert-Jan R. Roskam
    • 1
  • Frans G. H. Marcelissen
    • 1
  • Miranda Olff
    • 4
  • Mariel L. Meewisse
    • 4
  • Berthold P. R. Gersons
    • 4
  1. 1.Institute for PsychotraumaZaltbommelThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Center for Environmental Health ResearchNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM)BilthovenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of Clinical PsychologyUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Department of Psychiatry, Academic Medical Center/De MerenUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  5. 5.Institute for PsychotraumaZaltbommelThe Netherlands

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