The association between dispositional and mental health problems among disaster victims and a comparison group: A prospective study

P.G. van der Velden, R.J. Kleber, M. Fournier, Linda Grievink, A. Drogendijk, B.P.R. Gersons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: It is unclear whether the associations between the level of dispositional optimism on the one hand, and depression
symptoms and other health problems on the other hand among disaster victims differ from the associations among non-affected residents.

Methods: To assess the associations between the level of dispositional optimism and health problems among disaster victims and
non-affected residents, data of the longitudinal Enschede Fireworks Disaster Study was analyzed. Participants in the present study
consisted of adult native Dutch victims of the disaster (N=662) and a non-affected comparison group (N=526). Both groups
participated 18 months (T1) and almost four years post-disaster (T2). Multivariate logistic regression analyses were applied to
examine the association between optimism and health problems among both groups.

Results: Results showed that pessimistic victims were more at risk for severe depression symptoms and obsessive–compulsive
symptoms than optimistic victims when controlling for demographic characteristics, life events, smoking, and existing health
problems at T1. However, pessimistic participants in the comparison group were also more at risk for severe anxiety symptoms,
sleeping problems, somatic problems, and problems in social functioning than optimistic control participants
.
Limitations: We had no information on dispositional optimism before 18 months post-disaster
.
Conclusions: Pessimists at baseline are more at risk for health problems after 27 months than optimists. However, among nonaffected
residents pessimism is a stronger independent risk factor than among victims. Results suggest that professional helpers
such as general practitioners, psychologists and psychiatrists should not rely too much on optimistic views of disaster victims.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-45
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Volume102
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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  • Cite this

    van der Velden, P. G., Kleber, R. J., Fournier, M., Grievink, L., Drogendijk, A., & Gersons, B. P. R. (2007). The association between dispositional and mental health problems among disaster victims and a comparison group: A prospective study. Journal of Affective Disorders, 102, 35-45.