Snapshot from superstorm sandy: American red cross mental health risk surveillance in Lower New York State

  • Schreiber M
  • Yin R
  • Omaish M
 et al. 
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Study objective Disasters often cause psychological injury, as well as dramatic physical damage. Epidemiologic research has identified a set of disaster experiences and predisposing characteristics that place survivors at risk for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety. Rapid triage of at-risk survivors could have benefits for individual and population-level outcomes. We examine American Red Cross mental health risk surveillance data collected from October 29 to November 20, 2012, immediately after Hurricane Sandy in 8 lower New York State counties to evaluate the feasibility and utility of collecting these data. Methods PsySTART, an evidence-based disaster mental health triage tool, was used to record survivor-reported risk factors after each survivor contact. Red Cross disaster mental health volunteers interfaced with survivors at disaster operation sites, including shelters, emergency aid stations, and mobile feeding and community outreach centers. Risk data were called into the operations center each day and reported by county. Results PsySTART risk surveillance data for 18,823 disaster mental health contacts are presented for adults and children. A total of 17,979 risk factors were reported. Overall levels of risk per contact were statistically different (χ2 (1, N=6,045)=248.1; P

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  • Merritt D. Schreiber

  • Rob Yin

  • Mostafa Omaish

  • Joan E. Broderick

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