Mental health and related factors after the Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami.
Mental health is one of the most important issues facing disaster survivors. The purpose of this study is to determine the prevalence and correlates of mental health problems in survivors of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami at 6-11 months after the disaster. The questionnaire and notification were sent to the survivors in three municipalities in the Tohoku area of the Northern part of Honshu, Japan's largest island, between September 2011 and February 2012. Questionnaires were sent to 12,772, 11,411, and 18,648 residents in the Yamada, Otsuchi, and Rikuzentakata municipalities, respectively. Residents were asked to bring the completed questionnaires to their health check-ups. A total of 11,124 or (26.0%) of them underwent health check-ups, and 10,198 were enrolled. We excluded 179 for whom a K6 score was missing and two who were both 17 years of age, which left 10,025 study participants (3,934 male and 6,091 female, mean age 61.0 years). K6 was used to measure mental health problems. The respondents were classified into moderate (5-12 of K6) and serious mental health problems (13+). A total of 42.6% of the respondents had moderate or serious mental health problems. Multivariate analysis showed that women were significantly associated with mental health problems. Other variables associated with mental health problems were: younger male, health complaints, severe economic status, relocations, and lack of a social network. An interaction effect of sex and economic status on severe mental health problems was statistically significant. Our findings suggest that mental health problems were prevalent in survivors of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. For men and women, health complaints, severe economic status, relocations, and lack of social network may be important risk factors of poor mental health. For men, interventions focusing on economic support may be particularly useful in reducing mental health problems after the disaster.