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Trauma Exposure and Mental Health Problems among School Children 15 Months Post-Hurricane Katrina

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine prevalence, correlates and predictors of mental health in children in New Orleans 15 months post-Hurricane Katrina. Analyses were conducted on 195 children who completed self-reports of hurricane and lifetime trauma exposure, social support, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, and depression. Teachers completed the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. Children reported high incidence of PTSD symptoms: 36.9% moderate to severe and 23.6% mild. In multiple regression analyses, gender, social support, and lifetime trauma exposure, but not hurricane exposure, significantly predicted PTSD. Age, social support, and lifetime trauma exposure, but not hurricane exposure, significantly predicted child depressive symptoms. Teachers reported lower levels of problems and no significant predictors of teacher reports other than age and school. PTSD and depression were significant problems for children 15 months post-Hurricane Katrina. Lifetime trauma exposure was the strongest predictor of both PTSD and depression. Effective and accessible treatment is needed for such children.

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Correspondence to Audra K. Langley.

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Langley, A.K., Cohen, J.A., Mannarino, A.P. et al. Trauma Exposure and Mental Health Problems among School Children 15 Months Post-Hurricane Katrina. Journ Child Adol Trauma 6, 143–156 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1080/19361521.2013.812171

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Keywords

  • children
  • disaster
  • schools
  • PTSD
  • depression