Author(s): Hull AM, Alexander DA, Klein S
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Abstract BACKGROUND: The long-term psychological effects of surviving a major disaster are poorly understood. We undertook a survey of survivors of the Piper Alpha oil platform disaster (1988). AIMS: To examine the role of factors relating to the trauma, the survivors and the survivors' circumstances. METHOD: Ten years after the disaster, 78\% (46/59) of the survivors were located, of whom 72\% (33/46) agreed to be interviewed. A further three individuals completed postal measures. RESULTS: The most stringent diagnostic criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were met by 21\% (7/33) of the survivors over 10 years after the disaster. Features such as physical injury, personal experience and survivor guilt were associated with significantly higher levels of post-traumatic symptoms. CONCLUSIONS: A narrow definition of factors affecting outcome will limit the potential for improving survivor well-being in the long-term after major disasters. Specific symptoms that are not included in the criteria for the diagnosis of PTSD, together with issues such as re-employment, need to be addressed.
This article was published in Br J Psychiatry
and referenced in Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy