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Emotional distress and depression in children and adolescents following Australian bushfire disasters


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McDermott, Brett Michael Charles 2004 , 'Emotional distress and depression in children and adolescents following Australian bushfire disasters', MD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Given the evidence from epidemiological studies of a substantial unmet
child & adolescent mental health service need, it is typical that children with mental
health symptoms following a natural disaster are not routinely provided an
intervention. However, following a devastating Australian natural disaster the author
directed an innovative inter-sectoral response. Proactive, school-based screening for
post-disaster mental health sequelae was seen as a way of identifying school-age
children with persisting disaster related symptoms. Identified children were offered
a targeted mental health intervention. The intervention, a guided trauma workbook
for children and group therapy program for adolescents proved to be acceptable to
children, parents and teachers as well as being cost effective.
Major study investigations included the emotional responses of Primary and
High School children, the proportion of children whose responses met case criteria
for emotional trauma or depression and the relationship of these symptoms to trauma
related events and factors intrinsic to children such as their level of anxiety and
perception of disaster related threat. The responses of children of volunteer fire
fighters and younger children who attended infant school were also investigated.
Given the large sample size (n = 2379 Primary and High School students, n = 310
Infant School students) multivariate analyses were able to control for age and gender
and investigate the relative contribution of individual factors versus bushfire-related
variables to depressive and emotional trauma symptoms. In Infant School children a
novel measure of infant trauma responses, the Early Childhood Trauma Self-Report,
a combination of a picture, vignette and brief statements followed by yes/no
responses was also trialled. Also the relationship of parent-report of symptoms was
compared to child-report. The final analysis chapter reports a replication study following a major
bushfire disaster in Canberra, the Australian National Territory. Advances in design
included using two new measures of child and adolescent psychopathology: a
measure of Post traumatic stress disorder and a general child and adolescent
psychopathology screening measure. Changes were also made to improve the
disaster related information collected. The thesis concludes with a discussion of
research limitations and future research directions in the field of child and adolescent
mental health responses to natural disasters.

Item Type: Thesis - MD
Authors/Creators:McDermott, Brett Michael Charles
Keywords: Stress in children, Forest fires
Copyright Holders: The Author
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Copyright 2004 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (M.D.)--University of Tasmania, 2005. Includes bibliographical references

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