Flood and Psychological Well-Being: Direct, Mediating, and Moderating Effects

March 2005 (VOL. 23, NO. 1)

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Recent attention to terrorism and natural disasters has shifted public attention toward understanding how disasters shape our lives and affect our mental health. The major challenge of stress research is to study acute stress using prospective designs that make use of major theoretical models such as the stress process model. Using prospective, representative data (N = 1,735), this study measures the direct, mediating, and moderating impact of the 1993 Midwest floods for three major outcomes typically associated with natural disasters: depression anxiety, and PTSD. Using the stress process model as a guiding framework, regression analyses revealed that the flood significantly elevated symptoms of depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress. Adding social-psychological resources such as social support and sense of control into the equation reduced the impact of the flood on well-being suggesting evidence for a mediating effect. This study also found evidence that social-psychological resources modify the relationship between flood and well-being.