Psychological Effects of Hurricane Andrew on an Elementary School Population

JON A. SHAW, BROOKS APPLEGATE, SUZAN TANNER, DORCAS PEREZ, EUGENIO ROTHE, ANA E. CAMPO-BOWEN, BENJAMIN L. LAHEY

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Abstract

Objective: To explore the prevalence and progression of posttraumatic symptomatology (PTS), using emotional and behavioral indices of psychopathology in school-age children in the pathway of Hurricane Andrew (HI-IMPACT) and in a comparison group north of Miami (LO-IMPACT). Method: Pynoos' Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Reaction Index and Achenbach's Teacher's Report Form (TRF) were administered 8 weeks and 32 weeks after the hurricane. In addition, 21 measures of disruptive behavior cataloged by Dade County Public Schools were aggregated and compared by grading period between pre- and posthurricane school years. Results: There were no statistically significant differences between the two schools in PTS at 8 weeks after the hurricane, although the children in the HI-IMPACT school were more likely to have severe PTS. TRF findings at 8 weeks revealed that children in the HI- IMPACT school evidenced lower means on the eight TRF scales and on the broader Internalizing and Externalizing measures. Analysis of the disruptive behavior revealed a drop in the marking period immediately after the hurricane in the HI-IMPACT area, but an opposite effect was observed in the LO-IMPACT area. Conclusions: After the hurricane there was an initial increase in PTS and a concomitant decrease in other measures of behavior and psychopathology. PTS remained relatively high throughout the school year, but there was a rebound and subsequent normalization of the measures of disruptive behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1185-1192
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Volume34
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1995
Externally publishedYes

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Keywords

  • child
  • disaster
  • posttraumatic stress disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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