Women, Aging, and Post-Disaster Stress: Risk Factors

March 1999 (VOL. 17, NO. 1)

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The goal of this research was to model the relationship between stress and natural disasters, with a view to explaining levels of stress among women. Following flooding in Iowa in 1993, two in-depth questionnaire surveys were administered, one to residents in high flood exposure areas, and another to the general population as a control. Results indicated that gender plays a significant role in interpreting stress responses to natural hazards, with women consistently exhibiting greater stress than men. However, it was evident that a complex web of factors influenced stress levels including marital status, structure of the family unit, age, socio-economic status, health, levels of social involvement, and degree of hazard experience. These findings suggest that more research should focus on determining structural constraints that exacerbate stress levels for women.