Topic: Disasters, terror and stress management

Early postdisaster health outreach to modern families: a cross-sectional study

Haga, J. M., Stene, L. E., Wentzel-Larsen, T., Thoresen, S., & Dyb, G. (2015). Early postdisaster health outreach to modern families: a cross-sectional study. BMJ Open, 5:e009402. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2015-009402


Cross-sectional survey, face-to-face interviews and questionnaires.


Norway, aftermath of the Utøya massacre, 4–7?months postdisaster.


Following the Utøya massacre, proactive early outreach programmes were launched in all municipalities that were affected, facilitating access to appropriate healthcare services.


A total of 453 parents of the Utøya survivors aged 13–33?years took part. Overall, 59.8% of the survivors were represented by one or more parent in our study.

Main outcome measures:

Engagement with the proactive early outreach programme (psychosocial crisis teams and contact persons in the municipalities), utilisation of healthcare services (general practitioner and specialised mental healthcare services) and mental distress (UCLA PTSD-RI and HSCL-8).


A majority of the participants reported contact with the proactive early outreach programme (crisis team, 73.9%; and contact person, 73.0%). Failure of outreach to parents was significantly associated with non-intact family structure (crisis team: OR 1.69, 95% CI 1.05 to 2.72, p=0.032) and non-Norwegian origin (crisis team: OR 2.39, 95% CI 1.14 to 4.98, p=0.021).

Gender of the parent was not significantly associated with failure of the outreach programme (p?0.075). Provision of specialised mental healthcare services was significantly associated with higher levels of PTSD (OR 2.08, 95% CI 1.55 to 2.79, p<0.001) and depression (OR 2.42, 95% CI 1.71 to 3.43, p<0.001) and not with the sociodemography (p?0.122).                                 


Proactive early outreach strategies may be helpful in identifying healthcare needs and facilitating access to the required services in a population struck by disaster. Our findings prompt increased attention to the complexity of family structures in reaching out universally to modern families following a disaster.

The Researchers