Psychological Problems Among Children Three Years After the Earthquake in Nepal
Background: Frequent disasters and weak mental health system pose a risk to psychological health in Nepal. In 2015, a massive earthquake of 7.6 magnitude occurred in Nepal, which caused large scale destruction to human life and property. Limited research in children after disasters in Nepal prevent health professionals from implementing new evidence-based trauma treatments.
Aim: The study aimed to identify the long term emotional problems experienced by earthquake-affected children in Nepal. The role of gender, severity of exposure, socio-economic status and type of family in relation to emotional problems were also examined in the selected group.
Methods: A purposive sampling was used to select 454 children (4th and 5th standard) from two highly affected wards in Kathmandu Metropolitan City. Information about exposure to the earthquake was collected from children using the Level of Exposure Scale while the parents completed the Nepali version of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ/ 4-17).
Results: The effect of exposure to the earthquake was identified in the children even after three years. Boys had higher conduct, hyperactivity-inattention and peer problems while girls had high pro-social behaviour. Emotional problems were greater for those belonging to a lower socio-economic status. Among the variables, gender was a better predictor of emotional problems in earthquake-affected children.
Conclusions: Emotional problems such as conduct problems, hyperactivity-inattention, peer problems are present in the earthquake-affected children in Kathmandu. Future researchers and clinicians need to monitor the children affected by the earthquake to recognise vulnerable groups and implement appropriate trauma-focused interventions.