Psychological Medicine

Research Article

A longitudinal study of the psychological morbidity in children due to a natural disaster

Alexander C. McFarlanea1 c1, Sandra K. Policanskya1 and Claire Irwina1

a1 Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, The Flinders University of South Australia, Australia


This longitudinal study examined the psychological impact of a bushfire disaster on a group of 808 children aged from 5 to 12. Contrary to prediction, the prevalence of behaviour and emotional problems 2 months after the fire was less than the prevalence in a carefully selected comparison group. Rather than decrease with time, the prevalence of psychological morbidity increased significantly, being as great 26 months after the disaster as at 8 months.


c1 Address for correspondence: Dr A. C. McFarlane, Department of Psychiatry, Flinders Medical Centre, Bedford Park, South Australia 3042, Australia