RESIDENT: Prevalence Rates and Correlates of Likely Psychiatric Disorders in Residents of Fort McMurray Six and Eighteen Months after a Wildfire

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Presenting Author(s): Dr. Shahram Moosavi

Co-Author(s): Dr. Vincent I.O. Agyapong, MD, PhD, Idowu Akinjise, Sandra E. Corbett, Edward Denga, Bernard Nwaka

Date and time: 24 Mar 2018 from 14:00 to 14:15

Location: Hawthorn C  Floor Map

Learning Objectives:

  1. To understand the prevalence rates for likely Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder following the Fort McMurray wildfires
  2. To understand the demographic, social and mental health correlates or predictors for likely psychiatric disorders following a wildfire
  3. To explore protective factors against mental health disorders after wildfires

Literature References:

American Psychiatric A, Force DSMT: Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders : DSM-5. Washington, D.C., American Psychiatric Association, 2013.

Ashraf H: Tsunami wreaks mental health havoc in: Bulletin of the World Health Organization. London, World Health Organization, 2005, vol 83, pp 401-480.

Briere J, Elliott D: Prevalence, characteristics, and long-term sequelae of natural disaster exposure in the general population. J Trauma Stress 2000, 13(4):661-679.

Goldmann E, Galea S: Mental health consequences of disasters. Annu Rev Public Health 2014, 35:169-183.

North CS, Pfefferbaum B: Mental health response to community disasters: a systematic review. JAMA 2013, 310(5):507-518.

Norris FH, Friedman MJ, Watson PJ, Byrne CM, Diaz E, Kaniasty K: 60,000 disaster victims speak: Part I. An empirical review of the empirical literature, 1981-2001. Psychiatry 2002, 65(3):207-239.

Laugharne J, van der Watt G, Janca A: After the fire: the mental health consequences of fire disasters. Curr Opin Psychiatry 2011, 24(1):72-77.


Background: On the 3rd of May 2016, a mandatory evacuation order was issued for Fort McMurray and surrounding communities due to raging wildfire that threatened lives and property.   Objectives: This study assesses the prevalence rates for likely Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) in residents of Fort McMurray six and 18 months after a wildfire and to determine the demographic, clinical and other predictors of these disorders in the respondents.  Methods: The PTSD Checklist for DSM 5 Part 3, the PHQ-9 and the GAD-7 were used to assess the presence or absence of probable PTSD, MDD and GAD respectively in Fort McMurray residents in this cross sectional survey which employed random selection procedures.   Results: At six months, 486 Fort McMurray residents completed the survey. The one month prevalence rate for likely PTSD, MDD and GAD were elevated at 12.8%, 14.8% and 19.8% respectively. While controlling for other factors in the logistic regression model, patients who reported they received no support from family and friends were 9.5 , 12.75 and 3.45 times respectively more likely to have a likely PTSD, MDD or GAD compared to patients who reported they had absolute support of family and friends. The rates of PTSD, MDD and GAD are expected not to vary significantly with the 18 month data currently being compiled for analysis.   Conclusion: Our study has established that while support from family/friends following wildfires may be protective against likely PTSD, MDD and GAD.

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