Summer of sorrow: Measuring exposure to and impacts of trauma after queensland's natural disasters of 2010-2011

Susan L. Clemens, Helen BERRY, Brett M. McDermott, Catherine M. Harper

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    26 Citations (Scopus)


    Objectives: To assess the population prevalence of property, income and
    emotional impacts of the 2010–2011 Queensland floods and cyclones.
    Design, setting and participants: Cross-sectional telephone-based survey
    using a brief trauma exposure and impact screening instrument, conducted
    between 11 March and 6 June 2011, of 6104 adults who answered natural disaster
    and mental health questions.
    Main outcome measures: Natural disaster property damage exposure and
    emotional wellbeing impacts.
    Results: Two-thirds of respondents (62%) reported being affected by the
    disasters, with property damage exposure ranging from 37.2% (suburb or local
    area) to 9.2% (own home, with 2.1% living elsewhere at least temporarily).
    Income was reduced for 17.0% of respondents and 11.7% of income-producing
    property owners reported damage to those properties. Trauma impacts ranged
    from 14.3% of respondents feeling “terrified, helpless or hopeless” to 3.9%
    thinking they might be “badly injured or die”. Up to 5 months after the disasters,
    7.1% of respondents were “still distressed” and 8.6% were “worried about how
    they would manage”. Adults of working age and residents of regional and
    remote areas and of socioeconomically disadvantaged areas were
    disproportionately likely to report exposure to damage and emotional impacts.
    Conclusions: Weather-related disasters exact a large toll on the population
    through property damage and resultant emotional effects. Vulnerable
    subpopulations are more severely affected. There is a need for realistic, cost effective and rapid-deployment mass interventions in the event of weather
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)552-555
    Number of pages4
    JournalMedical Journal of Australia
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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