Objectives: Natural disasters are associated with catastrophic losses. Disaster survivors return to devastated communities and rebuild homes or relocate permanently, although the long-term psychological consequences are not well understood. The authors examined predictors of psychological outcomes in 219 residents of disaster-affected communities in south Louisiana. Method: Current coastal residents with severe property damage from the 2005 Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and exposure to the 2010 British Petroleum Deepwater Horizon oil spill were compared and contrasted with former coastal residents and an indirectly affected control group. Participants completed measures of storm exposure and stressors, religiosity, perceived social support, and mental health. Results: Non-organizational religiosity was a significant predictor of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in bivariate and multivariate logistic regressions. Follow-up analyses revealed that more frequent participation in non-organizational religious behaviors was associated with a heightened risk of PTSD. Low income and being a coastal fisher were significant predictors of depression symptoms in bivariate and multivariate models. Perceived social support had a protective effect for all mental health outcomes, which also held for symptoms of depression and GAD in multivariate models. Conclusion: People who experienced recent and severe trauma related to natural and technological disasters are at risk for adverse psychological outcomes in the years after these events. Individuals with low income, low social support, and high levels of non-organizational religiosity are also at greater risk. Implications of these data for current views on the post-disaster psychological reactions and the development of age-sensitive interventions to promote long-term recovery are discussed.
We examined perceptions of longevity and successful aging in young-old (60 to 74 years), old-old (75 to 89 years), and oldest-old (90 + years) adults drawn from the Louisiana Healthy Aging Study (LHAS). Participants responses to three open-ended questions that assessed their attributions for longevity, what they look forward to, and advice for younger persons today were compared. Content analyses yielded three emergent themes: maintaining physical, mental, and relational well-being; living a healthy life; and living a faithful life. Implications of these findings for current views on successful aging and insights for promoting a long and healthy life are considered.
The authors examined the effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (HKR) on cognitive and psychosocial functioning in a lifespan sample of adults 6 to 14 months after the storms. Participants were recruited from the Louisiana Healthy Aging Study (LHAS). Most were assessed during the immediate impact period and retested for this study. Analyses of pre-and post-disaster cognitive data confirmed that storm-related decrements in working memory for middle-aged and older adults observed in the immediate impact period had returned to pre-hurricane levels in the post-disaster recovery period. Middle-aged adults reported more storm-related stressors and greater levels of stress than the two older groups at both waves of testing. These results are consistent with a burden perspective on post-disaster psychological reactions.
In this article, we consider the intersection of religious coping and the experience of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in a lifespan sample of adults living in South Louisiana during the 2005 storms. Participants were young, middle-age, older, and oldest-old adults who were interviewed during the post-disaster recovery period. Qualitative analyses confirmed that three dimensions of religion were represented across participants responses. These dimensions included: 1) faith community, in relation to the significant relief effort and involvement of area churches; 2) religious practices, in the sense of participants behavioral responses to the storms, such as prayer; and c) spiritual beliefs, referring to faith as a mechanism underlying individual and family-level adjustment, acceptance and personal growth in the post-disaster period. Implications for future disaster preparedness are considered.
We examined health-related quality of life in adults in the Louisiana Health Aging Study (LHAS) after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (HK/R) that made landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast region in 2005. Analyses of pre- and post-disaster SF-36 scores yielded changes in physical function and bodily pain. Mental health scores were lower for women than men. Gender differences were observed in religious beliefs and religious coping, favoring women. Religious beliefs and religious coping were negatively correlated with physical function, implying that stronger reliance on religiosity as a coping mechanism may be more likely among those who are less physically capable.
Four methodologically diverse studies (N = 1,758) show that prayer frequency and alcohol consumption are negatively related. In Study 1 (n = 824), we used a cross-sectional design and found that higher prayer frequency was related to lower alcohol consumption and problematic drinking behavior. Study 2 (n = 702) used a longitudinal design and found that more frequent prayer at Time 1 predicted less alcohol consumption and problematic drinking behavior at Time 2, and this relationship held when controlling for baseline levels of drinking and prayer. In Study 3 (n = 117), we used an experimental design to test for a causal relationship between prayer frequency and alcohol consumption. Participants assigned to pray every day (either an undirected prayer or a prayer for a relationship partner) for 4 weeks drank about half as much alcohol at the conclusion of the study as control participants. Study 4 (n = 115) replicated the findings of Study 3, as prayer again reduced drinking by about half. These findings are discussed in terms of prayer as reducing drinking motives.
In 2005, the American Psychological Association (APA) issued an official brief on lesbian and gay parenting. This brief included the assertion: "Not a single study has found children of lesbian or gay parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents" (p. 15). The present article closely examines this assertion and the 59 published studies cited by the APA to support it. Seven central questions address: (1) homogeneous sampling, (2) absence of comparison groups, (3) comparison group characteristics, (4) contradictory data, (5) the limited scope of childrens outcomes studied, (6) paucity of long-term outcome data, and (7) lack of APA-urged statistical power. The conclusion is that strong assertions, including those made by the APA, were not empirically warranted. Recommendations for future research are offered.
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