Wangary fire stress surveyed

Wangary fire stress surveyed

17 November 2011

published by

Australia — ALMOST 70 people affected by the 2005 Wangary bushfire have completed a survey as part of a post traumatic stress disorder study initiated by previous Port Lincoln general practitioner Dr Richard Watts.

Dr Watts said 70 survey forms had been sent out so far and the majority of those had been filled out and returned.

“It’s a great response, it shows how caring the community is and how willing they are to provide information that can help other people in the long run,” he said.

The survey looks at the emotional, psychological and general health issues of people affected by the fire.

He is also looking at children’s strengths and difficulties.

“What that means is the emotional response of children who’s parents who were involved with the fire, or if they themselves were involved,” Dr Watts said.

“There are concerns that these sort of things can be generational.”

Dr Watts is working with Professor Sandy McFarlane, director of the Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies and Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Adelaide, and psychologist Doctor Miranda van Hooff to do the survey, which is the third of its kind.

They are looking to ask more people who were involved in the fire to take part.

“What we will now start to do is follow up the rest of the people who were in the area of the fire that haven’t been involved in the previous studies.”

Dr Watts said there would probably be about 1000 people in this group but some people would not want to be involved, which was understandable.

The results already received from the survey will be collated next year once all surveys are returned.

Previous surveys, done six months and two years after the fire, showed re-location, being close to dying and previously being exposed to a disaster increases risk to developing post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The six-month survey results showed 12.8 per cent of the 178 participants had a level of PTSD, while the study in 2007 showed this figure had dropped to 10.8 per cent.

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