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Mental Health Outcomes and Predictors of Chronic Disorders After the North Sea Oil Rig Disaster: 27-Year Longitudinal Follow-Up Study

Boe, Hans Jakob PsyD*†; Holgersen, Katrine H. PsyD*; Holen, Are PhD*†

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: January 2011 - Volume 199 - Issue 1 - p 49-54
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e31820446a8
Original Articles

The present study examined long-term mental health outcomes following a major disaster, including the relative risks (RR) of developing psychiatric disorders. Trauma exposure and predisaster vulnerability factors were examined as predictors of chronic psychopathology. Standardized questionnaires measuring psychological distress were completed 5() months, 14 months, 5 years, and 27 years after the disaster. Twenty seven years after the disaster, 48 (79%) survivors and a matched comparison group of 62 (78%) nondisaster-exposed controls were assessed using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV, axis I Disorders. The prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder among the survivors was 6.1%, and the risk of having a psychiatric disorder was more than 3 times higher than in the comparison group (RR = 3.44, 95% confidence interval = 1.6–7.6). Disaster exposure and general neurotic personality predicted chronic psychopathology, which was reported by 20.9% of the participants. Findings from this study suggest that increased risk of psychopathology persists 27 years after disaster. Both disaster exposure and vulnerable personality are important predictors of chronic psychopathology.

*Department of Neuroscience, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway; and †Centre for Pain and Complex Disorders, St. Olav University Hospital, Trondheim, Norway.

Supported by the Norwegian Research Council, project no. 165452.

Send reprint requests to Are Holen, PhD, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Department of Neuroscience, MTFS, NO-7489 Trondheim, Norway. E-mail:

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.