Publication Details

Fernandez, A., Black, J., Jones, M., Wilson, L., Salvador-Carulla, L., Astell-Burt, T. & Black, D. (2015). Flooding and mental health: a systematic mapping review. PLoS One, 10 (4), e0119929.-1-e0119929.-20.


Background Floods are the most common type of global natural disaster. Floods have a negative impact on mental health. Comprehensive evaluation and review of the literature are lacking. Objective To systematically map and review available scientific evidence on mental health impacts of floods caused by extended periods of heavy rain in river catchments. Methods We performed a systematic mapping review of published scientific literature in five languages for mixed studies on floods and mental health. PUBMED and Web of Science were searched to identify all relevant articles from 1994 to May 2014 (no restrictions). Results The electronic search strategy identified 1331 potentially relevant papers. Finally, 83 papers met the inclusion criteria. Four broad areas are identified: i) the main mental health disorders-post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety; ii] the factors associated with mental health among those affected by floods; iii) the narratives associated with flooding, which focuses on the long-term impacts of flooding on mental health as a consequence of the secondary stressors; and iv) the management actions identified. The quantitative and qualitative studies have consistent findings. However, very few studies have used mixed methods to quantify the size of the mental health burden as well as exploration of in-depth narratives. Methodological limitations include control of potential confounders and short-term follow up. Limitations Floods following extreme events were excluded from our review. Conclusions Although the level of exposure to floods has been systematically associated with mental health problems, the paucity of longitudinal studies and lack of confounding controls precludes strong conclusions. Implications We recommend that future research in this area include mixed-method studies that are purposefully designed, using more rigorous methods. Studies should also focus on vulnerable groups and include analyses of policy and practical responses.



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