Stress, Floods, and other Disasters: Impact of Multiple Crisis Events on Physical and Mental Health
Floods are the most frequent disasters in the world, they are full of stressors, and result in numerous victims and consequences for the physical and mental health of people.
The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of floods as a crisis event on the physical and mental health of the affected population. During the data collection, two new crises emerged. Part of the sample was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and devastating earthquakes. Therefore, the paper additionally analyzes the effects of these events on the results.
Data were collected through a field and online survey on a sample of the Croatian population living in the flood-prone area (n = 42) and a sample of the population of the nearby area that was not exposed to the floods (n = 38). The questionnaire contained questions about the socio-demographic characteristics of the participants, and measures of stress (Physical Stress Reactions and Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale 21).
The results show that residents of flooded areas showed on average more physical stress reactions (t (78) = 4.19, p <.01) and fewer psychological reactions to stress (t (78) = 5.79, p <.01) compared to residents of non-flooded areas. Participants affected by the pandemic and earthquake on average showed significantly more symptoms of psychological stress, especially depression and anxiety compared to participants unaffected by these crises (t (78) = 2.96 - 5.46, p <.01), while the difference in the intensity of physical symptoms did not appear.
The obtained results are difficult to interpret due to the interference of three crisis events and factors that may have influenced the results. However, this specific and unplanned research situation leads to the conclusion that crisis events have a significant stressful impact and consequences on the physical and mental health of the affected population.
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