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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 40 (1998) 5, 277 - 289

New research

Flood: A pilot study on the consequences for well-being and health of adults and children

M.C. Becht, M.A.L. van Tilburg, A.J.J.M. Vingerhoets, I. Nyklicek, J. de Vries, C. Kirschbaum, M.H. Antoni, G.L. van Heck

The present pilot study focused upon the effects of the flood of 1994-1995 in the Netherlands on well-being and health of adults and children. Questionnaires for studying these effects were completed six months after the flood by children (n = 64) and their parents (n = 30) who were both exposed to the flood. 15-20% of the children where having moderate to severe stress symptoms. Their well-being, however, did not seem to be affected much: most of them were satisfied with their lives now, felt happy and experienced the flood as a kind of a holiday. In adults, an estimated percentage of 15, after half a year, still experienced very severe symptoms of stress, and possibly a PTSS. The consequences were manifested in (psycho)somatic rather than psychological complaints. Those who had experienced a flood before could either cope better then those for whom it was the first time, or were less able to deal with this repeated exposure. Especially the last group had severe problems indicative of stress disorders. It is argued that in the future, assistance during and after (the threat of) a disaster should mostly be directed towards adults. A quick screening of children and providing subsequent aid to the ones in need seem to be sufficient.