Health-Related Quality of Life in Older Coastal Residents After Multiple Disasters

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OBJECTIVE: Exposure to multiple disasters, both natural and technological, is associated with extreme stress and long-term consequences for older adults that are not well understood. In this article, we address age differences in health-related quality of life in older disaster survivors exposed to the 2005 Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the role played by social engagement in influencing these differences. METHODS: Participants were noncoastal residents, current coastal residents, and current coastal fishers who were economically affected by the BP oil spill. Social engagement was estimated on the basis of disruptions in charitable work and social support after the 2005 hurricanes relative to a typical year before the storms. Criterion measures were participants' responses to the SF-36 Health Survey which includes composite indexes of physical (PCS) and mental (MCS) health. RESULTS: The results of logistic regressions indicated that age was inversely associated with SF-36 PCS scores. A reduction in perceived social support after Hurricane Katrina was also inversely associated with SF-36 MCS scores. CONCLUSIONS: These results illuminate risk factors that impact well-being among older adults after multiple disasters. Implications of these data for psychological adjustment after multiple disasters are considered. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2017;11:90-96).

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Disaster medicine and public health preparedness

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