2005 issue 4


Volume 14, issue 4

Original article

The picture of posttraumatic stress disorder in flood victims depends on the range of sustained loss

Agnieszka Stępień1, Krzysztof Małyszczak1, Andrzej Kiejna1
1. Katedra i Klinika Psychiatrii Akademii Medycznej we Wrocławiu
Postępy Psychiatrii i Neurologii 2005; 14 (4): 277-284
Keywords: PTSD, picture, flood, material loss, CIDI


Objectives. The aim of the study was to describe the prevalence and picture ofPTSD among eye witnesses of flood, who had neither received any psychiatric treatment previously, nor experienced any other concurrent stressful life events that might have been an independent cause of the PTSD onset.

Methods. Flood victims were interviewed between the 60th and 63rd month after theflood by the same psychiatrist using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI), section A (concerning demographic data) and section N (referring to PTSD) They were visited at home, by previous appointment over the phone. The course of PTSD was analyzed in two groups (of 47 and 50 respondents) distinguished on the grounds of the scope offlood-related material loss.

Results. The presence of PTSD was more frequent among those who had sustained severe loss due to the natural disaster (N = 30) than among persons who had experienced no significant loss (N = 30), with the PTSD ratios of 23.7% vs.7.2%, respectively. An analysis of symptom severity on the three main axes indicated a significantly higher prevalence of such symptoms on each axis in the group of victims who had experienced a permanent loss. In a vast majority of cases PTSD symptoms persevered for over a year, irrespective of the amount of loss.

Conclusions. The higher severity of symptoms in persons who had sustained a permanent loss evidences a relationship between PTSD and prolonged stressful situation due to permanentflood-related loss. The duration ofsymptoms similar in both compared groups indicates a strong effect of the major stressor as well as a negative effect of absence ofpsychological support for the victims.

Address for correspondence:
Dr Agnieszka Stępień, Katedra i Klinika Psychiatrii Akademii Medycznej, ul. Pasteura 10, 50-367 Wrocław, tel. (71) 7841600, e-mail: a_stepien@o2.pl