Physical and mental health shortly after a disaster: first results from the Enschede firework disaster study.Eur J Public Health. 2006 Jun; 16(3):253-9.EJ
Two to three weeks after the explosion of a fireworks storage facility in a residential area (May 2000, Enschede, The Netherlands) we assessed the self-reported physical and mental health among those affected by the disaster.
A questionnaire survey was conducted among 3792 residents, passers-by, and rescue workers, who were involved in and/or affected by the disaster and were > or =18 years of age.
At least 30% of those affected by the disaster reported serious physical and mental health problems 2-3 weeks after the explosion. Compared with reference values in the general Dutch population, high scores were found for somatic symptoms, sleeping problems, and restrictions in daily functioning due to physical and mental problems, such as anxiety, depression, and feelings of insufficiency. The strength of these differences varied between groups, based on the level of involvement and the level of being affected.
Results indicate that the fireworks disaster had a substantial impact on the health of those affected by the disaster. The health impact was most pronounced for residents and passers-by and also for rescue workers living in the affected area, but to a lesser degree. Physical and mental health problems were strongly associated with the shocking experiences during and shortly after the disaster.