The Population Burden of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Mississippi During the First Two Years after Hurricane Katrina
Sandro Galea, University of Michigan
Melissa Tracy, University of Michigan
Fran Norris, National Center for PTSD
Scott Coffey, University of Mississippi
Hurricane Katrina was, in death toll and economic impact, the most devastating natural disaster to hit the United States in the past 75 years. Extant estimates of psychopathology after this event may underestimate the true population burden of disease. Between February and July 2007, we conducted interviews of 810 persons who were representative of adults living in the 23 southernmost counties of Mississippi before Hurricane Katrina to assess the prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), its correlates, and course during the first two years after Hurricane Katrina. The prevalence of PTSD after Hurricane Katrina was high (24.3% using symptom and duration criteria; 17.0% using all criteria, including functional impairment) and associated principally with hurricane-related stressful events. Absent effective measures to prevent natural disasters affecting populations, postdisaster interventions that aim to improve manipulable stressors after these events may influence the onset and course of PTSD.