The 2010 Earthquake in Chile, Adverse Childhood Experiences, and Changes in Psychosocial Functioning in Elementary School Students: Findings from a Large, Longitudinal Sample

Anamika Dutta, BA

Massachusetts General Hospital
The 2010 Earthquake in Chile, Adverse Childhood Experiences, and Changes in Psychosocial Functioning in Elementary School Students: Findings from a Large, Longitudinal Sample

Scientific Abstract

Background: This study assessed the impact of the 2010 magnitude 8.8 earthquake in Chile on elementary schoolers’ psychosocial functioning relative to co-occurring adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).

Methods: Through the Chilean Ministry of Education’s (JUNAEB) Skills for Life program, the Chilean version of the Pediatric Symptom Checklist (PSC-CL) measured psychosocial functioning in a longitudinal sample of 22,468 1st graders (2009) and 3rd graders (2011). The PSC-CL also assessed four social risk factors: child chronic illness, family psychopathology, father absence, and family social isolation. Earthquake severity was categorized as mild, moderate, or severe in each region based on coding by the Pan American Health Organization.

Results: Nine regions (N=4,287 students) were rated as mild, three (N=11,676 students) as moderate, and three (N=6,505 students) as severely affected by the earthquake. Although students’ PSC-CL scores worsened post-earthquake in all groups, the severely affected cohort was most negatively impacted compared to moderate and mild groups (mean increase=.70 vs. .37 vs .15, respectively; F=5.77, p<.01). Children who became chronically ill, whose family members gained psychopathology, or who lost a father from 1st to 3rd grade also had significant deterioration in their PSC-CL scores (mean increase=2.05, 1.80, or 1.62, respectively; p<.001) compared to their counterparts. While all four 1st grade ACEs significantly predicted 3rd grade PSC-CL risk, binary logistic regressions identified the strongest unique predictors as PSC-CL1st grade risk (β=1.94, OR=6.93 p<.001), new family mental illness (β=0.65, OR=1.92, p<.001), new child chronic illness (β=0.59, OR=1.80, p<.001), and severe or moderate earthquake impact (β=0.51, 0.48; OR=1.66; 1.62, p<.001).

Conclusions: Children who were moderately or severely affected by the earthquake were significantly more likely to have PSC-CL risk in 3rd grade compared to their less affected peers, beyond the effects of more common ACEs. Some ACEs had a stronger negative impact than the earthquake. Results suggest the PSC-CL can meaningfully track the psychosocial impact of both natural disasters and ACEs.

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research Areas

Authors

Anamika Dutta, BA, Felipe Peña, BA, Juliana M. Holcomb, BA, Loreto Leiva, PhD, Ana María Squicciarini Navarro, BA, Katia M. Canenguez, PhD, Paul Bergmann, MA, Alexa Riobueno-Naylor, BA, Alyssa M. Farley, PhD, Ariela Simonsohn, MA, Dana Rose Garfin, PhD, Roxane Cohen Silver, PhD, Javier Guzmán, BA, Michael S. Jellinek, MD, J. Michael Murphy, EdD

Principal Investigator

Michael S. Jellinek, MD, J. Michael Murphy, EdD