Journal article

Mental Health Following Separation in a Disaster: The Role of Attachment

H Colin Gallagher, John Richardson, David Forbes, Louise Harms, Lisa Gibbs, Nathan Alkemade, Colin MacDougall, Elizabeth Waters, Karen Block, Dean Lusher, Elyse Baker, Richard A Bryant



Short-term separation from close family members during a disaster is a highly salient event for those involved. Yet, its subsequent impact on mental health has received little empirical attention. One relevant factor may be attachment style, which influences patterns of support-seeking under threatening conditions. Individuals (N = 914) affected by the 2009 Victorian bushfires in southeastern Australia were assessed for disaster experiences, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, and attachment style 3-4 years after the fires. Using multigroup structural equation modelling, individuals who reported separation from close family members during the bushfires (n = 471) were c..

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Awarded by Australian Research Council Linkage Grant

Funding Acknowledgements

This study was funded by an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant (LP100200164), with additional support from the Australian Red Cross, Australian Rotary Health, Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, Centrelink, and these Primary Care Partnerships: Central West Gippsland, Bendigo Loddon, North East, Lower Hume, Central Hume, and Outer East Health and Community Support Alliance. We are grateful for the contributions of the participating individuals and communities, as well as those of Pip Pattison, Greg Ireton, Vikki Sinnott, Connie Kellett, and Robyn Molyneaux. We also thank the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. We dedicate this work to Professor Elizabeth Waters, whose leadership, vision, and vitality will long be remembered.