Current Research and Recent Breakthroughs on the Mental Health Effects of Disasters

Carol S North

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


A large existing academic disaster mental health literature provides a foundation to help guide disaster mental health response. Recent studies, however, have indicated that reconceptualization of certain mental health aspects of disasters may be indicated to guide further research to inform the planning and implementation of disaster mental health interventions. In particular, there is need to more carefully measure specific postdisaster disorders and syndromes using full diagnostic assessments, differentiate pre-existing from incident (new) postdisaster psychopathology, appropriately consider disaster trauma exposure groups in assessing psychopathology, and conduct prospective follow-up assessments over time from the acute postdisaster period to the long term. Further descriptive and longitudinal research is needed to better characterize the occurrence and course of fully-assessed psychiatric disorders after different disasters, clarify the role of disaster trauma exposures in the development of postdisaster psychopathology, and deconstruct confounding effects in determination of causalities in mental health consequences of disasters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number481
JournalCurrent psychiatry reports
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2014


  • Alcohol and drug use disorders
  • Causal relationships
  • Disaster exposure
  • Disaster mental health
  • Disasters
  • Onset
  • Personality
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Psychiatric disorders
  • Psychopathology
  • Remission
  • Research methodology
  • September 11 attacks
  • Terrorism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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