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Coping processes of Midwest flood survivors: A comparison of those with and without prior natural disaster exposure

Stacey J Hoffman, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to model stress and coping processes among 463 survivors of the 1993 Midwest floods. Separate models were built for those who reported experiencing a natural disaster at some time in their lives prior to the flooding, and those for whom the flood was their first natural disaster exposure. Overall, results supported the theoretical stress and coping model, and the theory of posttraumatic growth. Greater degree of flood exposure and higher pre-flood depression scores were related to higher post-flood psychological symptoms. Pre-flood depression magnified the effect of flood exposure on post-flood psychological symptoms. Higher scores on general social support were related to lower post-flood psychological symptoms, and general social support protected against the effect of flood exposure on post-flood psychological symptoms. Interestingly, higher scores on flood-related social support provision were related to higher post-flood psychological symptoms. This is possibly due to exposure to the traumatic experiences of others through providing flood-related social support.^ Consistent with posttraumatic growth theory, higher levels of both flood exposure and post-flood psychological symptoms were related to greater positive changes in social relationships. Providing flood-specific social support was the strongest predictor of positive social changes. ^ Between-group comparisons indicated that greater sense of control was related to lower post-flood psychological symptoms only for those who had experienced a previous natural disaster. Sense of control protected against the effect of flood exposure on post-flood psychological symptoms for this group. ^ Gender differences were also found between groups. Among those without natural disaster exposure before the flood, women experienced greater post-flood psychological symptoms and greater positive social changes than did men. This is consistent with previous research on natural disasters. However, among those who had experienced a natural disaster at some time prior to the flood, men experienced greater post-flood psychological symptoms and greater positive social changes than did women. Results of between-group comparisons should be explored further in future research. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Social|Psychology, Clinical

Recommended Citation

Hoffman, Stacey J, "Coping processes of Midwest flood survivors: A comparison of those with and without prior natural disaster exposure" (2006). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3217587.
http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI3217587

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