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Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Avonside and post-earthquake health issues

The University of Canterbury yesterday published results of research into how people in four suburbs were coping with post-earthquake stress.

On the website Rebuild Christchurch (here) the two research projects are described without identifying the suburbs concerned. The New Zealand Herald (here) identified the suburbs as Avonside, Cashmere, Hornby and Mount Pleasant.

It is probably no surprise to read these observations in the New Zealand Herald:

Clinically significant levels of acute stress were identified across the suburbs, but clinically elevated depression and anxiety were only evident in the most affected suburb - Avonside.

Levels of drinking, anxiety and depression were higher in Avonside and Mt Pleasant, compared to the lesser-affected other two suburbs.

The following are extracts from the Canterbury University’s post on Rebuild Christchurch:

Participants in the more affected community reported greater symptoms of depression than the less affected community a year after the February earthquake. Prolonged periods of helplessness and ongoing post-disaster disruptions, along with distress and anxiety were factors associated with depression.

The more physically affected community were dealing with ongoing daily disruptions, shovelling silt from liquefaction all over again following large aftershocks, loss of utilities, living in severely damaged houses and for others relocation as their homes became uninhabitable with further quakes, loss of neighbourhood and many community social networks had gone.

In addition there was an increase in alcohol consumption reported as a result of the quakes and is an important finding especially as increased alcohol use is a common characteristic of depression following disaster as people try to cope with stressors, and is consistent with previous post-disaster research.

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