Indian Journal of PsychiatryIndian Journal of Psychiatry
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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 59  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 320-327

Identification and treatment of Nepal 2015 earthquake survivors with posttraumatic stress disorder by nonspecialist volunteers: An exploratory cross-sectional study

1 Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, Hertfordshire, UK
2 Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, TU Teaching Hospital, Kathmandu, Nepal
3 Department of Psychiatry, Centre for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety, School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA
4 Armed Police Force Hospital, Kathmandu, Nepal
5 Mental Health First Aid, Nepal
6 Central Department of Psychology, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal

Correspondence Address:
Arun Jha
Lambourn Grove, Hixberry Lane, St. Albans, Hertfordshire AL4 0TZ
Rajesh Nehete
Lambourn Grove, Hixberry Lane, St. Albans, Hertfordshire AL4 0TZ
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/psychiatry.IndianJPsychiatry_236_16

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Context: In April 2015, a major earthquake struck northern regions of Nepal affecting one-third of the population, and many suffered mental health problems. Aims: This study aimed to conduct a preliminary investigation of prevalence and feasibility of brief therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among earthquake survivors. Settings and Design: This is an exploratory cross-sectional study of prevalence and feasibility of brief trauma-focused therapy for PTSD among survivors 3 and 11 months after the earthquake in affected areas near Kathmandu. Methodology: A team of local nonspecialist mental health volunteers was trained to identify survivors with PTSD using the PTSD checklist for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (PCL-5) (cutoff score 38). They were trained to deliver either shortened versions of narrative exposure therapy (NET)-revised or group-based control-focused behavioral treatment (CFBT). Results: Altogether, 333 survivors were surveyed (130 in July 2015 and 203 in March 2016) with PCL-5 as the screening instrument, using the cutoff score of 38 or more for diagnosing PTSD. A PTSD prevalence of 33% was noted in 2015 and 28.5% in 2016. This drop of 4.5% prevalence in the intervening 8 months suggests that a significant number of survivors are still suffering from PTSD. Most participants were female, aged 40 or above, married, and poorly educated. Compared to the brief (four sessions) individual NET-revised, a group-based CFBT was found more acceptable and affordable. Conclusions: PTSD is common following earthquake trauma, and if untreated, survivors continue to suffer for a long time. Management of PTSD should be included in future disaster management plans.



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