[Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, full page: (LINK). Abstract, edited.]
Lessons from Hurricane Katrina for predicting the indirect health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic
Ethan J. Raker, Meghan Zacher, and Sarah R. Lowe
PNAS first published May 18, 2020 https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2006706117
Edited by Kenneth W. Wachter, University of California, Berkeley, CA, and approved May 7, 2020 (received for review April 9, 2020)
Beyond their immediate effects on mortality, disasters have widespread, indirect impacts on mental and physical well-being by exposing survivors to stress and potential trauma. Identifying the disaster-related stressors that predict health adversity will help officials prepare for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Using data from a prospective study of young, low-income mothers who survived Hurricane Katrina, we find that bereavement, fearing for loved ones’ well-being, and lacking access to medical care and medications predict adverse mental and physical health 1 y postdisaster, and some effects persist 12 y later. Adjusting for preexisting health and socioeconomic conditions attenuates, but does not eliminate, these associations. The findings, while drawn from a demographically unique sample, suggest that, to mitigate the indirect effects of COVID-19, lapses in medical care and medication use must be minimized, and public health resources should be directed to those with preexisting medical conditions, their social networks, and the bereaved.
disasters – COVID-19 pandemic – Hurricane Katrina – mental health – physical health
Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; COVID-19; Hurricanes; Society; Poverty; Disaster preparedness.