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Loss and psychosocial factors as determinants of quality of life in a cohort of earthquake survivors.


BACKGROUND: Despite the existing evidence of a long lasting effect of disaster related experiences on physical and psychological health, few studies have evaluated long-term quality of life (QOL) outcomes of disaster survivors and the factors associated with such outcomes. METHODS: 23 years after the 1988 Spitak earthquake in Armenia, the associations of demographic characteristics, trauma exposure and psychosocial variables on QOL were explored among a cohort of 725 exposed individuals. The EQ-5D-5 L instrument was applied to measure QOL of participants. Multivariate linear and ordinal logistic regressions were applied to evaluate the determinants of QOL and its underlying five domains (mobility, self-care, usual activity, pain/discomfort, and anxiety/depression). RESULTS: Older age, current depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety symptoms were negatively associated with QOL. Additionally, those with severe losses (who did not receive any financial/material aid) had significantly poorer QOL outcomes, with higher odds of mobility difficulties (OR = 1.86, p < 0.05), self-care difficulties (OR = 2.85, p < 0.05), and mood problems (OR = 2.69, p < 0.05). However, those with severe earthquake related losses who received financial/material aid reported less self-care difficulties (OR = 0.21, p < 0.05) usual activity difficulties (OR = 0.40, p < 0.05), and mood problems (OR = 0.44, p < 0.05). Finally, each unit increase in current social support score was found to be significantly associated with a better QOL outcome and better self-reported outcomes across all underlying domains of QOL. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that earthquake related loss and concurrent psychopathology symptoms can have adverse impact on the QOL of survivors. They also indicate that well-targeted post-disaster financial/material aid and social support should be considered as means for improving the long-term QOL outcomes of disaster survivors.

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