Risk and Resilience Factors Reported by a New Zealand Tertiary Student Population After the 4th September 2010 Darfield Earthquake

August 2014 (VOL. 32, NO. 2)

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An online survey of 3,571 University of Canterbury tertiary students was undertaken four to six weeks after the Mw 7.1 Darfield (Canterbury) earthquake impacted Christchurch, New Zealand. The aim was to identify factors indicating increased psychological risk after the event, and so gauge the well-being of the student population, while gathering feedback on the University’s post-earthquake communication strategy. The majority of students reported diminished stress during aftershocks since the event, and 93% reported ‘feeling OK again’ at the time of survey completion. More than 95% reported being satisfied or very satisfied with the University’s communication strategy, and would recommend the University to other students. Students also reported concern about the potential impact of the earthquake on their academic performance. Heightened risk was associated largely with aspects of impact exposure. Established risk factors, such as damage to residences, were confirmed in these findings. Short absences from the city after the event were also associated with increased risk. Identifying significant risk factors, and indicating the importance of rapid and regular post-disaster communication, these findings are particularly relevant for those involved in tertiary institutional planning for future disaster events.