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Acierno, Ron, Kenneth J. Ruggiero , Dean G. Kilpatrick, Heidi S. Resnick, and Sandro Galea. 2006. "Risk and protective factors for psychopathology among older versus younger adults after the 2004 Florida hurricanes." American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 14(12): 1051-1059.
Objective: Previous research demonstrates increased resiliency to psychopathology after disasters among older adults. However, little is known about differences in age-based risk and protective factors for postdisaster mental illness. Method: The authors used random-digit dialing methodology to survey 1,130 older adults (60+ years) and 413 younger adults residing in Florida counties directly affected by the 2004 hurricanes. Assessed risk and protective factors included demographics, social support, displacement, incurred dollar losses, perceived positive outcomes, and self-rated health status. Outcome variables included symptom counts of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition-defined posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depressive disorder (MDD), and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Results: Older adults reported fewer symptoms of PTSD, MDD, and GAD. Explanatory risk variables accounted for large proportions of variance, but differed in meaningful ways across age groups. Conclusion: Although older adults are less symptomatic, their psychologic reactions appear more closely connected to economic consequences of disasters.