Quality of Life Research

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 733–743 | Cite as

The association between post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms and the quality of life among Wenchuan earthquake survivors: the role of social support as a moderator

  • Changyi Zhao
  • Zhibin Wu
  • Jiuping Xu



To examine the role of the three types of social support as possible moderating factors between post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and its relationship to two domains of the quality of life (QOL).


A cross-sectional survey was done in a local area near the epicenter of the severe earthquake in Wenchuan. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), the standard Chinese 12-item Short Form (SF-12v2), and the Social Support Rating Scale (SSRS) were used to interview a total of 2,080 earthquake survivors in the one-year follow-up period. Multiple regressions were performed to evaluate the moderating role of social support on the relationship between PTSD and QOL.


Among survivors one-year after the Wenchuan earthquake, being a woman (p < 0.01), having a lower level of education (p < 0.01), having a lower level of income (p < 0.01), having a worse housing status (p < 0.05) and having a higher level of exposure (p < 0.05) were risk factors for a poorer QOL (∆R 2 = 0.063). PTSD symptoms negatively influenced the QOL (∆R 2 = 0.145), while social support positively influenced the QOL (∆R 2 = 0.016). However, the interaction between social support and PTSD weakened the negative effect of PTSD on the QOL (∆R 2 = 0.012). Subjective support and support availability moderated the association between PTSD and the QOL (∆R 2 = 0.010).


Subjective support and support availability are more useful strategies to improve the QOL of the earthquake survivors with PTSD symptoms.


Post-traumatic stress disorder Quality of life Social support Earthquake 



We are grateful to the editors and anonymous referees for their insightful comments and suggestions. We would like to thank all of the interviewees who showed great patience in answering the questionnaires. This research was supported by Major Bidding Program of National Social Science Foundation of China (Grant no. 08&ZD009) and also partially sponsored by the project of Investigation Propaganda Department of China Association for Science and Technology (Grant no. 2009DCYJ12) and by the “985” Program of Sichuan University “Innovative Research Base for Economic Development and Management”.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Uncertainty Decision-making LaboratorySichuan UniversityChengduPeople’s Republic of China

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