Journal of the New Zealand Medical Association, 29-June-2012, Vol 125 No 1357
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Christchurch earthquakes: how did former refugees cope?
Mohamud Osman, Andrew Hornblow, Sandy Macleod, Pat Coope
This study investigated how former refugees now living in Christchurch (Canterbury Province, New Zealand) communities coped after the 4 September 2010 and subsequent earthquakes.
A systematic sample of one in three former refugees from five ethnic groupings (Afghanistan, Kurdistan, Ethiopia, Somalia and Bhutan) was selected from a list of 317 refugees provided by the Canterbury Refugee Council and invited to participate in the study. Seventy-two out of 105 potential participants completed a 26 item questionnaire regarding the impact of the quakes, their concerns and anxieties, coping strategies and social supports. The methodology was complicated by ongoing aftershocks, particularly that of 22 February 2011.
Three-quarters of participants reported that they had coped well, spirituality and religious practice being an important support for many, despite less then 20% receiving support from mainstream agencies. Most participants (72%) had not experienced a traumatic event or natural disaster before. Older participants and married couples with children were more likely to worry about the earthquakes and their impact than single individuals. There was a significant difference in the level of anxiety between males and females. Those who completed the questionnaire after the 22 February 2011 quake were more worried overall than those interviewed before this.
Overall, the former refugees reported they had coped well despite most of them not experiencing an earthquake before and few receiving support from statutory relief agencies. More engagement from local services is needed in order to build trust and cooperation between the refugee and local communities.
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