The China–Australia training on psychological crisis intervention for medical aid leaders and volunteers after the Sichuan earthquake

Robert M Parker, Chee Ng, Andrew Coghlan, Julia Fraser and Beverley Raphael
Med J Aust 2009; 190 (9): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2009.tb02532.x
Published online: 4 May 2009

For many thousands of years it has been recognised that disasters have significant physical and psychological effects on human society. Some of the earliest written records from Sumeria comment on the destruction of Nippur in 2000 bc and report on the anguish and suffering of the population.1 More recently, research has provided ample evidence of psychiatric morbidity in the wake of natural and human-caused disasters.2 Much of the research has focused on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but other conditions such as depression and anxiety disorder have also been reported. Initial high rates of distress usually diminish over the ensuing months, except for the people most intensely exposed to disaster stressors such as threat to life, loss of loved ones and loss of home. Earthquakes have been associated with enduring rates of PTSD as high as 25% in the affected population, highlighting the need for mental health interventions.3 Children are particularly vulnerable in such circumstances.4

  • 1 School of Medicine and Dentistry, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD.
  • 2 St Vincent’s Mental Health Service, Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 3 Australian Red Cross.
  • 4 Asia–Australia Mental Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 5 University of Western Sydney, Sydney, NSW.


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  • 2. Neria Y, Nandi A, Galea S. Post-traumatic stress disorder following disasters: a systematic review. Psychol Med 2008; 38: 467-480.
  • 3. Kilic C, Aydin I, Taskintuna N, et al. Predictors of psychological distress in survivors of the 1999 earthquakes in Turkey: effects of relocation after the disaster. Acta Psychiatr Scand 2006; 114: 194-202.
  • 4. Eksi A, Braun K, Ertem-Vehid H, et al. Risk factors for the development of PTSD and depression among child and adolescent victims following a 7.4 magnitude earthquake. Int J Psychiatry Clin Pract 2007; 11: 190-199.
  • 5. Ma H, Ng C. Protecting children in disasters. Beijing: Peking University Medical Press, 2008.
  • 6. Guscott WM, Guscott AJ, Malingambi G, Parker R. The Bali bombings and the evolving mental health response to disaster in Australia: lessons from Darwin. J Psychiatr Ment Health Nurs 2007; 14: 239-242.
  • 7. Ursano RJ, Fullerton CS, Weisaeth L, Raphael B, editors. Textbook of disaster psychiatry. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.


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