Monday, March 17, 2008

Mental health after Chernobyl

The Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident in April 1986 was the world's worst nuclear disaster. 31 people died of radiation sickness in its immediate aftermath and another 19 people had died from the long-term effects of radiation poisoning by 2005. Around 600,000 people were sent in to help with the clean-up and although these people are regularly checked for cancer there has been little research into their psychological well-being. A study of 692 people in the Ukraine compared people who had taken part in the clean-up in 1986 with other people living in the area. They found that clean-up workers had slightly higher rates of depression (18% vs 13.1%), were more than twice as likely to have had suicidal thoughts, were over four times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and over five times more likely to suffer from headaches.

Loganovsky, K. ... [et al] - The mental health of clean-up workers 18 years after the Chernobyl accident Psychological Medicine April 2008, 38(4), 481-488

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