Factors relating to the mental health of women who were pregnant at the time of the Great East Japan earthquake: Analysis from month 10 to month 48 after the earthquake

Kineko Sato, Maki Oikawa, Mai Hiwatashi, Mari Sato, Nobuko Oyamada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The Great East Japan Earthquake occurred at 2:46 p.m. on March 11, 2011. The epicenter was off the coast of Miyagi prefecture, and the magnitude of the earthquake was 9.0 with a maximum seismic intensity of 7.0. Although it has already been four years, victims continue to have complex problems. In the stricken areas of Miyagi prefecture, almost ten percent of the residents continue to live in temporary housing. Life altering events that force relocation and a change of living environment are known to adversely affect mental health. The purpose of this study was to examine the mental health of mothers of infants who experienced this disaster in Miyagi prefecture. Methods: We conducted a survey using The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (10 months) and The General Health Questionnaire-28, an efficient screening tool for psychiatric distress. Eight hundred eighty-six mothers of children born from February to October, 2011 in Miyagi prefecture were surveyed 10, 16, 24, 36 and 48 months after the disaster. Data were analyzed with the use of SPSS 21.0 J for Windows. The study was approval by the review board of ethics at Tohoku University. Results: The questionnaire was answered by the following number of mothers at the specified months after the disaster: 677 at 10 months, 384 at 16 months, 351 at 24 months, 250 at 36 months and 193 at 48 months. Results at all time periods indicated a high prevalence of psychiatric distress among the mothers surveyed. The percentage of Japanese adults with high-risk GHQ-28 scores is 14 %, thus psychological distress among the subjects in the present study is considerably more widespread. General Health Questionnaire-28 scores were significantly higher for those mothers experiencing dissatisfaction in their marital relationships. We found that mothers have experienced severe mental distress since the disaster, which we think is a possible cause of depression that is leading to poor mental health. Conclusion: The results indicate that the upheaval caused by the tsunami affected the mental health of the mothers. Psychological distress continued to be prevalent up to four years after the disaster. Different factors were found to be associated with their distress. The most common issues were economic problems, dissatisfaction in the marital relationship, and no support with childcare.

Original languageEnglish
Article number22
JournalBioPsychoSocial Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Jun 27


  • GHQ-28
  • Post-partum depression
  • The Great East Japan earthquake

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Psychology(all)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


Dive into the research topics of 'Factors relating to the mental health of women who were pregnant at the time of the Great East Japan earthquake: Analysis from month 10 to month 48 after the earthquake'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this