A Pilot Study of the Psychological Impact of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

Kosuke Niitsu, Shinobu Watanabe-Galloway, Harlan Sayles, Julia Houfek, Michael Rice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: There is evidence that a large-scale disaster may have indirect psychological impact on the individuals who were not involved with the disaster first hand. The 2011 earthquake and tsunami disasters in Japan provide an opportunity to investigate the potential global effect of indirect exposure associated with intense media coverage. OBJECTIVES: To compare the disaster’s psychological impact between Japanese and non-Japanese students; to determine what factors are associated with higher psychological impact. DESIGN: A cross-sectional, anonymous online survey of university students in the Midwest. RESULTS: Japanese students scored significantly higher on the Impact of Event Scale–Revised (IES-R) hyperarousal subscale compared with non-Japanese students. Those who were in Japan when the disaster occurred exhibited significantly higher psychological impact levels. There were significant correlations between media exposure and two IES-R subscales: avoidance and hyperarousal. CONCLUSIONS: The results support the finding from 9/11 studies that indirect exposure is associated with stress-related psychological responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)194-202
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2014


  • indirect exposure
  • natural disaster
  • posttraumatic stress disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health


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