Volume 26, Number 1

Contents - Volume 26, Number 1

Published August 2022
Volume 26, Number 1 (complete issue)

Contents page - Volume 26, Number 1


Research Papers

Does a disaster worsen anxiety when you are already anxious? Psychological consequences following exposure to a M7.1 earthquake in an outpatient anxiety disorder population

Lee Kannis-Dymand, Helen Colhoun, Monique Huntley. Colette Woolcock, Ron Chambers, Dianne Le Compte, Juliet Macleod, Claire Gilbert. Dixie Statham, Monique Jones, Clare Sullivan, Jane Alexander, Steven Love & Caroline Bell

Keywords: Anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress, peritraumatic distress, personality temperament, earthquake

Research of clinical patients with a pre-existing psychological disorder involved in a disaster is limited. This study investigated relationships between pre- and post-earthquake psychopathology (i.e., anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress), peritraumatic distress, work and social impairment, perceived support post-earthquake, and personality dimensions in an outpatient, anxiety disorder population. Thirty-seven patients with pre-existing anxiety disorders completed standard clinical assessments pre-earthquake. They then completed a second set of questionnaires 3 months after exposure to the 2010 Christchurch, Aotearoa New Zealand, earthquake. Bivariate correlations on the variables determined what relationships were present, and paired samples t-tests assessed differences in pre- and post-earthquake anxiety, depression, and alcohol and drug consumption as well as relationships with peritraumatic distress, posttraumatic stress, and personality variables. Significant relationships were found between pre-earthquake psychopathology, peritraumatic distress, post-earthquake psychopathology, and impairment. Paired samples t-tests demonstrated anxiety and depression scores were significantly lower post-earthquake. However, prior anxiety and depression, as well as peritraumatic distress, were significantly associated with post-earthquake psychopathology, including posttraumatic stress and impaired work and social functioning. There were no differences between pre- and post-event alcohol and drug consumption. The personality dimensions of harm avoidance, self-directedness, and persistence significantly associated with post-disaster anxiety and depression. Promisingly, post-earthquake perceived support was significantly negatively correlated with depression and posttraumatic stress.

Memories for the emotions that you and others experienced during COVID-19 lockdown

Zhe Chen, Cameron Hooson-Smith, Ailsa Humphries & Simon Kemp

Keywords: Biases in memory, COVID-19 lockdown, emotion of others, memory for emotion

People’s memory for emotion is often biased by their beliefs of what they should have felt. This bias may be stronger when people estimate the emotions of others. We hypothesised that people might remember a lockdown as worse than it really was for them, and, especially if their own was not too bad, they might believe that others had a worse experience. We investigated people’s memories of their own emotions experienced during a national COVID-19 lockdown and the emotions they estimated others were feeling. Two hundred and thirty-four participants from Aotearoa New Zealand each completed two matched questionnaires, one during a lockdown and one after the lockdown had ended. The questionnaires asked them to rate eight different emotions, some positive and some negative, and their life satisfaction. They also rated the government’s current performance on managing COVID-19 at both time points. Participants had a relatively good memory for their emotions but, as predicted, they tended to recall the lockdown experience as more negative than they had originally experienced it. They also estimated the experiences of others to be more negative than their own. These results agree with our predictions and suggest that we should be cautious about accepting people’s memories of how they actually felt during disasters as accurate.

Barriers to seeking help for an emotional or mental health condition among Australian emergency services workers

Wavne Rikkers & David Lawrence

Keywords: Help-seeking barriers, emergency services workers, mental health, first responders

Not all emergency services workers with a developing mental health condition seek help. Barriers to help-seeking in this population include stigma, being seen as weak, career and confidentiality concerns, and not being able to take time off from work. Barriers are widespread across the sector and appropriate interventions need to be tailored to this population. The literature refers to research mostly undertaken in single sectors or organisations, which this study sought to address by examining data from “Answering the Call”, a national study of the mental health and wellbeing of a large cohort of emergency services personnel. We aimed to see if help-seeking barriers could be grouped in some way and, if so, which demographic and psychological factors were associated with those groups. Latent class analysis found people could be grouped according to the number of barriers reported (i.e., lots, some, or a few) but not by the types of barriers reported. Factors associated with reporting lots of barriers included being in the police sector, being male, having severe levels of probable PTSD or psychological distress, low levels of receiving support, and high levels of workplace stress. The most commonly reported barrier was preferring to handle problems on one’s own or with family/friends. This implies that the large, complex array of factors affecting people’s help-seeking leads to a sense of feeling overwhelmed and preferring to deal with problems on their own. Increased training in mental health literacy for managers, while alleviating career concerns and perceptions of stigma among all personnel, is recommended.

Cyclone Harold and the role of traditional knowledge in fostering resilience in Vanuatu

Charles A. E. Pierce & Sarah L. Hemstock

Keywords: Vanuatu, resilience, tropical cyclone, traditional knowledge (TK), TK transmission, food security

This article examines the role of traditional knowledge, skills, and values in fostering resilience in Vanuatu, the world’s most at-risk country from natural hazards. We study responses to severe Tropical Cyclone (TC) Harold, which devastated the nation’s northern islands in April 2020 just as a state of emergency had been declared in response to COVID-19. This necessitated severe restrictions on the delivery of relief supplies and a ban on the arrival of overseas humanitarian workers, forcing remote communities to adopt local responses to the emergency and cope with food insecurity through traditional resilience strategies and values that promote resource-sharing and cooperation. We use a mixed methods approach to analyse the content, extent, and transmission of traditional knowledge in Vanuatu and link this to evidence of its usefulness during TC Harold. Quantitative data from field surveys with two groups of respondents are combined with reports on responses to TC Harold both nationally and along the remote western coast of Santo Island. We also review the extent of traditional knowledge in current educational curricula in Vanuatu. Results illustrate how traditional ecological knowledge and social capital played a key role in disaster response and recovery, but such knowledge is mainly held by older people, and its use by younger generations is declining. We conclude that with rising global temperatures predicted to generate more extreme weather events, and external funds for disaster relief likely to decline, there is a need to build greater adaptive capacity at the local level through the revival of centuries-old informal transmission pathways of knowledge and values.


All papers are protected under the Creative Commons attribution as per our copyright notice.

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