Race and Social Problems

, Volume 4, Issue 3–4, pp 144–157 | Cite as

Predictors of Posttraumatic Stress and Growth Among Black and White Survivors of Hurricane Katrina: Does Perceived Quality of the Governmental Response Matter?



Data from the Baseline Survey of the Hurricane Katrina Community Advisory Group Study (Kessler 2009) were used to explore the predictors of posttraumatic growth and posttraumatic stress among black (n = 265) and white (n = 715) adult survivors of Hurricane Katrina. We focus on the perceived quality of the governmental response and cognitive processing related to the response on posttraumatic outcomes, and whether there were racial group differences. We also consider the impact of demographic factors and severity of stress. Results of hierarchical linear regression showed that being black, older, having lower educational attainment, and experiencing greater perceived stress and loss during Katrina positively predicted greater posttraumatic growth. Being female, living below the poverty line, and experiencing greater perceived stress and loss positively predicted posttraumatic stress symptoms. More positive views of the governmental response were associated with greater posttraumatic growth and more negative views with greater posttraumatic stress symptomology. Moreover, it was found that race significantly moderated the effect between perceived quality of the response and posttraumatic stress. Subgroup analysis corroborated the interaction effect and showed that while perceived quality of the governmental response significantly predicted posttraumatic stress for black survivors, it was not a significant predictor for white survivors. This study sheds light on some of the factors and conditions under which positive and negative post-trauma outcomes occurred after Katrina. We propose that racial group differences in the impact of perceived quality of the response on posttraumatic stress may be related to views among some black survivors that the emergency response was discriminatory.


Trauma Natural disaster Emergency response Posttraumatic growth Hurricane Katrina 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Boston College Graduate School of Social WorkChestnut HillUSA

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