The Impact of Hurricane Katrina on the Mental and Physical Health of Low-Income Parents in New Orleans

Jean Rhodes, Christian Chan, Christina Paxson, Cecilia Elena Rouse, Mary Waters, Elizabeth Fussell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

155 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to document changes in mental and physical health among 392 low-income parents exposed to Hurricane Katrina and to explore how hurricane-related stressors and loss relate to post-Katrina well-being. The prevalence of probable serious mental illness doubled, and nearly half of the respondents exhibited probable posttraumatic stress disorder. Higher levels of hurricane-related loss and stressors were generally associated with worse health outcomes, controlling for baseline sociodemographic and health measures. Higher baseline resources predicted fewer hurricane-associated stressors, but the consequences of stressors and loss were similar regardless of baseline resources. Adverse health consequences of Hurricane Katrina persisted for a year or more and were most severe for those experiencing the most stressors and loss. Long-term health and mental health services are needed for low-income disaster survivors, especially those who experience disaster-related stressors and loss.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-247
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Orthopsychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)


  • African Americans
  • Health outcomes
  • Hurricane Katrina
  • Natural disasters
  • New Orleans
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Single parents
  • Women


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