Thursday, 8 May 2014

Study looks at how losing an only child in a natural disaster can affect women in different ways

In a recent study co authored by DEPM's Jane Fisher, researchers found that women who had lost a child in a natural disaster were more likely to suffer from mental health problems than women who had lost a child, but who had given birth to a subsequent baby following the disaster.

The research focused on women in China who lost a child in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake and it found that those who had not given birth to a subsequent child were consistently found to have higher symptoms of mental illness than those who had given birth to another child. A substantially higher proportion of women without a subsequent child had clinically significant symptoms of all four of the mental conditions examined than those with another child. In particular, over 90% of women without a subsequent child had clinically significant symptoms of depression or complicated grief.

The study suggested that research should focus on developing and evaluating interventions designed to provide women with psychosocial support and reproductive health services. Women who have lost an only child in a natural disaster are especially vulnerable to long-term psychological problems, especially if they have reached an age when conception is difficult.

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