Long-Term Impact of Hurricane Sandy Exposure on Positive and Negative Affect: The Role of Perceived Social Support

Bram Wolters, Almar Kok, Martijn Huisman, Francine Cartwright, Rachel Pruchno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives: Natural disasters can have devastating, long-lasting effects on the mental health of older adults. However, few studies have examined associations among disaster exposure and positive and negative affect, and no longitudinal studies have investigated the extent to which predisaster perceived social support affects these associations. These analyses examine the associations among predisaster perceived social support, disaster exposure, and positive and negative affect experienced by community-dwelling older adults 4 years after Hurricane Sandy, controlling for predisaster affect. Methods: Self-reported data collected before and after Hurricane Sandy from participants (aged 50–74 years) in the ORANJ BOWL panel (N = 2,442) were analyzed using linear regression models. Results: Higher levels of peritraumatic stress experienced during Hurricane Sandy and greater hardship experienced after the storm were associated with more negative affect 4 years following the disaster. Higher perceived social support at baseline was related to more positive affect and less negative affect both before and after the hurricane. Social support did not moderate the effect of hurricane exposure on either positive or negative affect. Discussion: Findings suggest that psychological effects may persist years after natural disasters and that more effective interventions may be needed during and after a disaster. While social support is critical to positive and negative affect in general, its buffering effects when disaster strikes may be limited.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1892-1903
Number of pages12
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Volume77
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2022
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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