Older Adults' Health Care Utilization a Year after Experiencing Fear or Distress from Hurricane Sandy

Laura P. Sands, Yimeng Xie, Rachel Pruchno, Allison Heid, Yili Hong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objective To determine whether self-reports of disaster-related psychological distress predict older adults' health care utilization during the year after Hurricane Sandy, which hit New Jersey on October 29, 2012.Methods Respondents were from the ORANJ BOWL Study, a random-digit dialed sample from New Jersey recruited from 2006 to 2008. Medicare hospital, emergency department (ED) and outpatient claims data from 2012 and 2013 were matched to 1607 people age 65 and older in 2012 who responded to follow-up surveys conducted from July 2013 to July 2015 to determine their hurricane-related experiences.Results In total, 7% (107) of respondents reported they experienced a lot versus 93% (1493) respondents reported they experienced little or no fear and distress from Hurricane Sandy. Those who experienced a lot versus little or no fear and distress had higher probability of all-cause hospital admissions and more ED visits through 3 months (hazard ratio [HR]: 2.19, 95% CI: 1.03-4.63; incidence ratio [IR]: 2.57, 95% CI: 1.21-5.35), and ED and outpatient visits (IR: 2.20, 95% CI: 1.44-3.37; IR: 1.37, 95% CI: 1.02-1.87) through the year after the hurricane.Conclusions A self-reported assessment of disaster-related psychological distress is a strong predictor of older adults' health care needs the year after the disaster. The results indicate that disaster preparedness should extend beyond acute health care needs to address longer-term health consequences of disasters. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)578-581
Number of pages4
JournalDisaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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