Press release: 3.8 times the risk of depression when moving to temporary housing; however, those who changed their participation in group activities upon moving had a 40% reduction in the risk (Visiting Researcher Matsuoka)

A research group led by Yoko Matsuoka (Chiba University, Center for Preventive Medical Sciences) and Professor Naoki Kondo analyzed the effect of post-disaster relocation on mental health and the factors explaining this effect among the affected older adults of the 2016 Kumamoto earthquake.

Post-disaster relocation is a risk factor for worsening mental health, but the mechanism has not been elucidated. Therefore, we analyzed the effect of relocation on mental health by housing type and what factors explain this effect. We included 828 older adults aged 65 years or older who participated in the 2013 survey before the earthquake and seven months later in the 2016 survey in Mifune Town, Kumamoto Prefecture, which was affected by the April 2016 Kumamoto earthquake. Focusing on participation in group activities, the risk of depression due to relocation to temporary housing was 3.8 times higher for those who had no change before and after the earthquake, but this risk was reduced by 40% for those who had a change in group participation. After the 2016 Kumamoto earthquake, temporary housing facilities were relocated based on lessons learned from past earthquakes and tsunami disasters, including group relocation policies, the establishment of meeting places in proximity, and visitation activities by support centers. There, residents were able to change their involvement in group activities and optimize their connections, which may have led to a reduction in relocation stress.

The paper was published in BMC Public Health in the online edition on October 11, 2023.

The press release is available here.

[Article Information]

Yoko Matsuoka, Maho Haseda, Mariko Kanamori, Koryu Sato, Airi Amemiya, Toshiyuki Ojima, Daisuke Takagi, Masamichi Hanazato & Naoki Kondo. Does disaster-related relocation impact mental health via changes in group participation among older adults? Causal mediation analysis of a pre-post disaster study of the 2016 Kumamoto earthquake. BMC Public Health 23, 1982 (2023).