Encyclopedia of Natural Hazards

2013 Edition
| Editors: Peter T. Bobrowsky

Haiti Earthquake 2010: Psychosocial Impacts

  • James M. Shultz
  • Louis Herns Marcelin
  • Zelde Espinel
  • Sharon B. Madanes
  • Andrea Allen
  • Yuval Neria
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4399-4_351


Disaster behavioral health; Disaster health; Disaster mental and behavioral health; Disaster mental health


At 4:53 PM local time (21:53 GMT) on January 12, 2010, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake devastated the Haitian capital city of Port-au-Prince and surrounding area, killing an estimated 222,570–316,000 persons (Inter Agency Standing Committee, 2010; CBC News, 2011). The Haiti 2010 earthquake is noteworthy among natural disasters that subject the affected human population to intense psychological stressors (Table  1).
Haiti Earthquake 2010: Psychosocial Impacts, Table 1

Haiti 2010 earthquake: disaster stressors

Impact phase stressors

Post-impact phase stressors

Exposure to severe shaking

Exposure to ongoing aftershocks

Physical injury and personal harm

Exposure to multiple strong aftershocks

Pain, debility, loss of function

Loss of limb

Physical injury and personal harm

Rampant infectious diseases

Searching for missing loved ones

Entrapment in collapsed structures


This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Calis, E., Freed, A., Mattioli, G., Amelung, F., et al., 2010. Transpressional rupture of an unmapped fault during the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Nature Geoscience, 3, 794–799, doi:10.1038/ngeo992. Available at: http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v3/n11/full/ngeo992.html. Accessed April 22, 2012.
  2. CBC (Canada) News (2011). Haiti raises quake death toll on anniversary. Available at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2011/01/12/haiti-anniversary-memorials.html. Accessed April 22, 2012.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2011). Cholera in Haiti: One Year Later. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/haiticholera/haiti_cholera.htm. Accessed April 22, 2012.
  4. Horowitz, M. J., Siegel, B., Holen, A., et al., 1997. Diagnostic criteria for complicated grief disorder. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 154, 904–910.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Inter Agency Standing Committee (IASC)/United Nations Office for the/Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (2010). Response to the Humanitarian Crisis in Haiti Following the 12 January 2010 Earthquake. Available at: www.humanitarianinfo.org/iasc/downloaddoc.aspx?docID=5366&type. Accessed April 22, 2012.
  6. INURED, 2010. Voices from the Shanties: A Post-Earthquake Rapid Assessment of Cite Soleil, Port-au-Prince. Port-au Prince, Haiti: Interuniversity Institute for Research and Development (INURED), pp. 1–24.Google Scholar
  7. Neria, Y., and Litz, B., 2004. Bereavement by traumatic means: the complex synergy of trauma and grief. Journal of Loss and Trauma, 9, 73–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Neria, Y., Gross, R., Litz, B., et al., 2007. Prevalence and psychological correlates of complicated grief among bereaved adults 2.5–3.5 years after 9/11 attacks. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 20, 251–262.Google Scholar
  9. Neria, Y., Nandi, A., and Galea, S., 2008. Post-traumatic stress disorder following disasters: a systematic review. Psychological Medicine, 38(4), 467–480.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Norris, F. H., Friedman, M., and Watson, P., 2002. 60,000 disaster victims speak. Summary and implications of the disaster mental health research. Psychiatry, 65, 240–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Shultz, J. M., Espinel, Z., Galea, S., and Reissman, D. B., 2007. Disaster ecology: implications for disaster psychiatry. In Ursano, R.J., et al., (eds.) Textbook of Disaster Psychiatry. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, pp. 69–96.Google Scholar
  12. Shultz, J. M., Marcelin, L. H., Madanes, S., Espinel, Z., and Neria, Y., 2011. The trauma signature: understanding the psychological consequences of the Haiti 2010 earthquake. Prehospital and Disaster Medicine, 26(5), 353–366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Shultz, J. M., Neria, Y., Allen, A., and Espinel, Z., 2012a. Psychological impacts of natural disasters. In Bobrowsky, P. (ed.), Encyclopedia of Natural Hazards. Heidelberg: Springer, pp. xx–xx.Google Scholar
  14. Shultz, J.M., Besser, A., Kelly, F., Allen, A., Schmitz, S., Hausmann, V., Marcelin, L.H., and Neria, Y., 2012b. Psychological consequences of indirect exposure to disaster due to the Haiti earthquake: Six hundred nautical miles from danger. Prehospital and Disaster Medicine (in press).Google Scholar
  15. United States Geological Survey, 2010a. Pager – M 7.0 – Haiti region. Available at: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/pager/events/us/2010rja6/index.html. Accessed April 22, 2012.
  16. United States Geological Survey, 2010b. Magnitude 7.0 – Haiti region. Available at: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsww/Quakes/us2010rja6.php. Accessed April 22, 2012.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • James M. Shultz
    • 1
  • Louis Herns Marcelin
    • 2
  • Zelde Espinel
    • 1
  • Sharon B. Madanes
    • 3
  • Andrea Allen
    • 4
  • Yuval Neria
    • 5
  1. 1.Center for Disaster & Extreme Event Preparedness (DEEP Center), University of Miami Miller School of MedicineMiamiUSA
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyInteruniversity Institute for Research and Development (INURED), Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and University of MiamiCoral GablesUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.Barry UniversityMiami ShoresUSA
  5. 5.Department of PsychiatryColumbia University, The New York State Psychiatric InstituteNew YorkUSA