ISSN 2586-0151 (Print)
ISSN 2586-0046 (Online)
Volume 14, Number 1 (1/2018)
Original Article <page. 44-52 >

Longitudinal Change in Health Status after the Sewol Ferry Accident among Bereaved Parents

Sang Eun Yang, MD1;Hye Jin Tae, MD1;Jihyun Hwang, MA2; and Jeong-Ho Chae, MD, PhD1,2;

1;Department of Psychiatry, Seoul St. Mary's Hospital, The Catholic University of Korea, College of Medicine, Seoul, 2;The Catholic Emotion Research Laboratory, Catholic Biomedical Industrial Institute, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Korea

Objective : The present study had examined the psychiatric symptoms and physical health consequences for the bereaved parents of the high school students who died in the 2014 Sewol ferry accident.

Methods : Forty bereaved parents participated in the study. The authors administered self-report questionnaires about the parents' health behaviors and psychiatric symptoms. The authors also conducted laboratory tests to assess the parents' physical health at 18 and 30 months after the accident. Univariate descriptive statistics were performed to report the prevalence and severity of psychiatric symptoms and health-related behaviors. Paired t-test and Mcnemar test were performed to compare the 18-and 30-month findings. Correlation analysis between psychiatric symptoms and laboratory findings were performed to find a relationship between the two variables.

Results : At 30 months after the accident, most of the bereaved parents still appeared to suffer from complicated grief (97.5%), post traumatic stress disorder (80%), insomnia (77.5%) and severe depression (62.5%) based on the scores on the Inventory of Complicated Grief (ICG), the PTSD Check List-5 (PCL-5) ,the Insomnia Severity Index (ISI) and the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9). One quarter of the bereaved parents reported high-risk drinking, and 47.5% reported increased drinking amount and frequency after the accident. In objective laboratory results, 55% of the bereaved parents were obese as defined by body mass index ≥25. The parents' mean low-density lipoprotein shows a significant increase over time (118.5 mg/dL at 18 months. vs. 132.5 mg/dL at 30 months. paired t-test t=-4.061, p≦0.001). Total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein at 30 months after the accident were in clinically borderline high range. In correlation analysis, triglyceride was positively correlated with ISI.

Conclusion : The loss of children in the Sewol ferry accident, a disaster caused by human error, continued to have considerable impact on the victims' parents' mental and physical health 18 and 30 months after the accident. A longitudinal study following the parents' physical health would be necessary to investigate the long-term effects of this traumatic experience on physical health.


Key words : The Sewol ferry accident;Bereaved parents;Health problems.

Anxiety and Mood

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