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New Study Looks At Mental Health After Sandy [AUDIO]

While the Sandy recovery presses on, there are still scars out there you cannot see.

Sandy Renters
Mario Tama, Getty Images

The Superstorm ripped through more than just property back last October. She did a number on many of our mental states. Emotionally, the storm was extremely severe and sometimes that damage can take even longer to repair, if at all.

A new study is turning the focus on mental health in the wake of the storm.

The Geisinger Health System of Pennsylvania has announced plans to conduct the study in Ocean and Monmouth Counties.

“Hurricane Sandy offers a unique opportunity to study the impact of a large-scale natural disaster in a major shore community,” said Joseph Boscarino, Ph.D., MPH, senior investigator, Center for Health Research, Geisinger Health System, and lead investigator on the study. “Through this study, we hope to gain a better understanding of how mental health services were used and their outcomes, so that the providers of those services can be prepared in the future.”

About 500 shore area residents are taking part in the study over telephone.

The goal is to find out what people need after surviving such a cataclysmic event. Health care providers around Jersey have reported a significant increase in anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, depression and even insomnia.

The study seeks to provide healthcare providers with a community needs assessment and clinical screening tools that can be utilized in future community disasters.

This study builds on Dr. Boscarino’s research efforts over the past decade, a body of research that has sought to understand the availability and outcomes of community-based mental health services following exposure to community disasters and other traumatic events.

Specifically, the study will build upon Dr. Boscarino’s research conducted in New York City following the Sept. 11, 2001, World Trade Center attacks, which found that while the use of mental health services did not increase substantially in the 12 months following terror attacks, it did increase 24 months afterwards.

This research also suggested that brief, emergency mental health services immediately after trauma exposure were associated with better mental health outcomes up to two years after a World Trade Center disaster. Boscarino’s research team is also studying the impact war zone deployment and psychological stress among returning war veterans at Geisinger.

Dr. Boscarino plans to have the study completed later this month with results available in June.

“Events like Hurricane Sandy can be devastating for the residents who are affected,” Dr. Boscarino said. “The goal here is to understand what happened, learn from it and be prepared moving forward, as hurricane season will be starting again, very soon.”

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