Published: 2021-02-11 15:24 | Updated: 2021-02-11 15:24

New thesis "To be a child and survive a natural disaster"

Hi Petra Adebäck, PhD student at the Division of Family Medicine and Primary Care! On March 19 you will defend your thesis “To be a child and survive a natural disaster”. What’s the main focus of the thesis?

Petra Adebäck, PhD student at the Division of Family Medicine and Primary Care, NVS.
Petra Adebäck, PhD student at the Division of Family Medicine and Primary Care, NVS. Photo: Katja Bertell Vallin

We know from studies that children or adolescents can have strong reactions after a disaster. However, we do not know the long-term psychological consequences. Therefore, we have examined children or adolescents 10-15 years old, who were affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami while on vacation with their families in Southeast Asia. We wanted to extend the knowledge of psychological consequences for children or adolescents eight or nine years after this natural disaster, when they became young adults.

Which are the most important results?

We could see that the amount and type of exposure during this natural disaster, and the social support these children or adolescents perceived afterwards, was of importance when becoming young adults. At the same time, they had many reminders later in young adulthood that they had to manage in different ways. If you lost someone close during this natural disaster, you had more psychological consequences than if you did not lose someone close.

How can this new knowledge contribute to the improvement of people’s health?

Seeing that a natural disaster has long-term effects can be of importance for those who meet people that were affected, for example physicians, and that the psychological consequences still after many years can be significant.

What’s in the future for you? Will you keep on conducting research?

I will continue my work at the Region Stockholm Crises and Disaster Psychology unit.

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