Contents & Abstracts
Editorial : Reducing
the consequences of disaster and trauma: Readiness and therapeutic perspectives.
by Douglas Paton
The 1995-1996 Mount Ruapehu eruptions provided an excellent opportunity to study the physical, social and economic impacts of a small volcanic eruption on New Zealand communities. In response, a questionnaire was designed and sent out to a number of locations in the North Island to collect information on peoples' post-eruptive perceptions of volcanic hazards, the impact of the eruptions on communities and individuals' responses to the eruptions. In addition, the survey placed a special focus on the effect the eruptions had on businesses. A number of respondents that answered the survey were directly affected by the Ruapehu eruptions, and had developed a heightened awareness of the type of hazards posed by an erupting volcano such as Ruapehu. This heightened awareness has implications for hazard education as direct experience of the 1995-96 eruptions may make subsequent warnings and information releases regarding volcanic hazards more salient, therefore encouraging individuals to respond in an appropriate way. Physical damage and disruption caused by the eruptions was minor and results from the questionnaire could be correlated with damage reported in other Ruapehu eruption studies. Individual responses to the eruption varied, with most reporting some degree of self-reliance in coping with the effects of the eruption. In dealing with ash falls, some individuals' actions were not consistent with recommended ash mitigation strategies and this may have been a consequence of incorrect advice, inadequate access to information, inappropriate interpretation of information or preconceived ideas. To eliminate as much error as possible in the future, it is essential that timely, accurate and clear hazard and mitigation information be disseminated both during and prior to an event.
We investigated the risk perceptions and preparedness in a sample of 440 Auckland area school children using a risk perceptions and preparedness-based survey. Children generally were aware of both problem-focused and emotion-focused coping strategies related to a future hazard: findings indicated that children in this sample demonstrated reasonably accurate risk perceptions, a generalised awareness of essential risk mitigation protectiveness factors, and a moderate to strong belief in their ability to cope emotionally with future hazard. Importantly, various factors interrelated with one another. Children with more unrealistic risk perceptions were found to demonstrate increased hazard-related upset, a decreased belief in their ability to cope with a future hazard, and a reduced awareness of hazard-related protective behaviours compared to children with more realistic risk perceptions. Perhaps more importantly, children involved in hazards education programmes demonstrated more stable risk perceptions, reduced hazard-related fears, and a much greater awareness of important hazard-related protective behaviours compared to children who reported not being involved in a hazards education programme. In addition, children involved in two or more education programmes were significantly more aware of these protective behaviours than children involved in only one education programme. On the other hand, no differences were noted in home-based preparedness as a function of education. Implications and caveats are discussed.
Link to full paper
This study was designed to examine the existence of Secondary Traumatic Stress (STS) symptoms in a sample of therapists working with sex offenders. A further aim was to examine the relationship between STS and exposure to clients, operationalised as years of working with such clients and percentage of caseload. An Australia-wide sample of 67 therapists completed the IES-R (Weiss & Marmar, 1995) and the Compassion Fatigue Scale (CF, Figley, 1995). Findings confirmed that STS symptoms are present in this population, and that a "U"-shaped relationship exists between years of experience and avoidance such that therapists with the least and most experience experience most avoidance. This study also provided evidence of the convergent validity of the relatively new CF scale.
Massey University, New Zealand
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