Prevalence in disaster survivors

What is prevalence of PTSD in disaster survivors?

Prevalence represents the overall proportion of individuals in a population who have the disorder of interest. It is different from incidence, which represents only the new cases that have developed over a particular time period. Point prevalence is the proportion of individuals who have the disorder at a given point in time. Period prevalence is the proportion of individuals who have the disorder over specific time periods. Lifetime prevalence is the proportion of individuals who have ever had the disorder. Lifetime morbid risk includes those who had the disorder but were deceased at the time of the survey.

What is the evidence for the prevalence of PTSD following disasters?

Moderate to low quality evidence found the mean prevalence of PTSD following public health disasters (SARS outbreaks) to be around 14%, after natural disasters (earthquakes, hurricanes) mean prevalence was around 18%, and after man-made disasters (war, terrorism) mean prevalence was around 24%.

There were vast differences in prevalence rates of PTSD across studies. The prevalence of PTSD in adults exposed to earthquakes was between 4.1% and 67.7% and between 2.5% and 60% for children exposed to earthquakes. Being female, having low education, low socio-economic status, prior trauma, being trapped, and experiencing fear, injury, or bereavement were all related to greatest risk of PTSD in adults exposed to earthquakes. In children exposed to earthquakes, being older, having higher education, being trapped, experiencing fear, injury or bereavement, and witnessing injury/death during the earthquake were all related to the greatest risk of PTSD.

After hurricanes, the prevalence of PTSD was between 9.0% and 36.7%. Following cyclones and tornadoes the prevalence was between 1.0% and 90.0%. After fires, the prevalence was between 9.0% and 36.7%. After floods the prevalence was between 2.05% and 37.0%. Following ship sinking the prevalence was between 50.0% and 89.5%. After the 9/11 attack the prevalence was between 2.3% and 35.0%. The prevalence of PTSD in children and adolescents after tsunamis was between 6.0% and 70.7%.

August 2021

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Last updated at: 11:24 pm, 8th October 2021
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