Psychosocial and environmental distress resulting from a volcanic eruption: a mixed methods study

Warsini, Sri (2015) Psychosocial and environmental distress resulting from a volcanic eruption: a mixed methods study. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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The eruption of Mount Merapi in October 2010 was one of the largest natural disasters to occur in Indonesia in the last four years. This disaster not only resulted in individuals experiencing multiple losses, but also caused extensive damage to the environment. Very little is known about the psychosocial impact of volcanic eruptions or the effects of living under the continual threat of volcanic eruptions. Similarly, little is known of the psychosocial distress associated with the environmental damage caused by natural disasters. The aim of this study was to determine the psychosocial and environmental distress experienced by survivors as a result of the 2010 Mount Merapi eruption. This study also aimed to explore the experience of individuals living near Mount Merapi and their experiences of living in an environment that had been damaged by a volcanic eruption.

This study implemented an explanatory mixed methodology over three phases. The first phase involved preparing the instruments and conducting a pilot test of the study protocol. Two measurement tools, the Environmental Distress Scale (EDS) and the Impact of Event Scale–Revised (IES-R), were translated into Bahasa Indonesian, back translated to English and then tested on 30 respondents. A further test to measure the validity and reliability of the tools was then conducted with 80 and 110 respondents. In the second phase of the study, 350 respondents from the Cangkringan and Pakem sub-districts were surveyed using systematic stratified sampling. Data was analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics with the aid of the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) (Version 21). Parametric tests (t tests) and non-parametric tests (Mann Whitney, Chi-square and Fischer tests) were conducted to compare the scales scores of respondents in both sub-districts. Multivariate analysis was performed using multiple linear regressions to predict the risk factors of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the environmental distress experienced by respondents. In the final phase of the study, in-depth interviews were conducted with 20 Cangkringan respondents to follow-up issues raised in the quantitative phase and investigate the personal experiences of the respondents. A dual analysis of qualitative data was conducted; a phenomenological type analysis was used to understand the experiences of the respondents and a descriptive analysis was used to analyse the qualitative data collected and explain the quantitative findings.

The Indonesian versions of the IES-R (i.e., the I-IES-R) and EDS (i.e., the I-EDS) scales were found to be reliable and valid tools for determining the psychosocial impacts of natural disasters among Indonesian survivors. Interestingly, it was found that survivors living in Cangkringan had a higher risk of PTSD and environmental distress than survivors living in Pakem. PTSD varied with age, gender and home ownership status. Linking the qualitative findings to predictive factors revealed a number of themes. First, in relation to age, themes identified included: (i) hope and desire; (ii) role and responsibility; and (iii) life experiences and coping. In relation to gender, identified themes included: (i) role and concern; and (ii) emotional status and coping. Factors that affected survivors' levels of environmental distress, age, education level and employment status, were linked to the following themes: (i) exposure; (ii) disturbance; and (iii) knowledge and awareness. The following three themes emerged from the phenomenological analysis of interviews: (i) connectivity; (ii) dislocation; and (iii) reconnection (which reflected respondents' feeling of having an emotional connection to the volcanic mountain).

Individuals who live in the Mount Merapi area have a strong connection to the mountain. Survivors who lived in the area most affected by the 2010 volcanic eruption were found to have a higher risk of experiencing psychosocial problems (i.e., PTSD and environmental distress). Overall, the findings suggest that natural disasters (such as volcanic eruptions) have a significant impact on survivors and result in high levels of psychosocial and environmental distress. The levels of environmental distress identified in this study provide support for the theory of solastalgia and its relevance in natural disaster settings. Solastalgia is a concept which represents the feelings of sadness or lack of solace experienced by individuals facing negative changes in the environment where they live.

This study identified the impact of a volcanic eruption on psychosocial and environmental distress. The results of this study can be used as a baseline to develop strategies to assist similarly affected communities to recover more effectively from natural disasters and prevent the development of serious psychosocial problems in individuals impacted by future disasters.

Item ID: 44655
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: disaster survivors; emotional distress; environmental distress; Indonesia; Mount Merapi; natural disasters; post-disaster mental-health disorders; Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTDS); psychological impacts; psychological impacts; psychosocial impacts; trauma; traumatic experiences; traumatic stress; volcanic eruptions; volcanic mountains
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This is a thesis by publication. Published articles included in chapters 1, 2, 4 and appendix H have been redacted from the thesis due to copyright restrictions. The full thesis may either be requested via document delivery at your local library or viewed in the Eddie Koiki Mabo Library at JCU, Townsville.

Publications arising from this thesis are available from the Related URLs field. The publications are:

Chapter 1: Warsini, Sri, Mills, Jane, and Usher, Kim (2014) Solastalgia: living with the environmental damage caused by natural disasters. Prehospital and Disaster Medicine, 29 (1). pp. 87-90.

Chapter 2: Warsini, Sri, West, Caryn, Mills, Jane, and Usher, Kim (2014) The psychosocial impact of natural disasters among adult survivors: an integrative review. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 35 (6). pp. 420-436.

Chapter 3: Warsini, Sri, Usher, Kim, Buettner, Petra, Mills, Jane, and West, Caryn (2015) Psychosocial and environmental distress resulting from a volcanic eruption: study protocol. Collegian, 22 (3). pp. 325-331.

Chapter 4: Warsini, Sri, Buttner, Petra, Mills, Jane, West, Caryn, and Usher, Kim (2015) Post-traumatic stress disorder among survivors two years after the 2010 Mount Merapi volcano eruption: a survey study. Nursing and Health Sciences, 17 (2). pp. 173-180.

Chapter 5: Warsini, Sri, Buettner, Petra, Mills, Jane, West, Caryn, and Usher, Kim (2014) The psychosocial impact of the environmental damage caused by the Mt Merapi eruption on survivors in Indonesia. EcoHealth, 11 (4). pp. 491-501.

Appendix H: Warsini, Sri, Buttner, Petra, Mills, Jane, West, Caryn, and Usher, Kim (2014) Translation, cultural adaptation, and psychometric testing of the environmental distress scale with Indonesian survivors of a volcanic eruption. Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, 8 (3). pp. 229-238.

Appendix H: Warsini, S., Buttner, P., Mills, J., West, C., and Usher, K. (2015) Psychometric evaluation of the Indonesian version of the Impact of Event Scale Revised. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 22 (4). pp. 251-259.

Date Deposited: 11 Aug 2016 05:15
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1110 Nursing > 111005 Mental Health Nursing @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9202 Health and Support Services > 920210 Nursing @ 100%
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