Topic: Disasters, terror and stress management

The Tsunami programme Part 2: Affected children and parents

2005 This project has been completed 2012

Project Manager

Project Members

Main objective

The purpose is to better understand the long-term effects that natural disasters can have on children, their parents and the family.


New interview survey among children and adults who experienced the tsunami, after 2 1/2 years.

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1.In the first study, 183 parents responded (questionnaire) in summer 2005 concerning 319 children’s acute and current reactions. In the questionnaire it was desired to gain more knowledge about the parents’ and children’s state of health in order to learn more about the factors leading to posttraumatic stress reactions.

The parents were asked about:

  • Their own reactions to the tsunami and their current state of mental health
  • The children’s acute reactions and their current state of mental health

2. In the second study, 89 parents and 146 children were interviewed in their homes in autumn 2005 by psychologists, psychiatrists and educators concerning their experiences of the tsunami and how it has affected their daily lives. The interview study focused on children and the family as a care situation and how this can contribute to good psychological development processes after trauma, and what can make such processes difficult.

We were interested in finding out more about:

  • The way the catastrophe has affected daily life in the family.
  • What the children had experienced and how they described their experiences.
  • How the children coped with and attached meaning to the events
  • The extent to which exposed adolescents had changed their world views
  • The needs that parents found the children had and the way in which the parents related to these needs
  • The children’s and parents’ state of health 10 months after the event
  • How parents and children think the school handled the situation

3. The third study was a follow-up of the earlier interviews with children in summer 2007, when 107 children and 68 parents were interviewed. The follow-up study focused on the long-term effects that a natural disaster may have for children and their parents.

Among other things, they were asked about:

  • The children’s and parents’ state of health 2 ½ years after the tsunami
  • Changes in attitudes towards themselves, other people and the world around them
  • Parents’ mastery in meeting the children’s need for help

Despite the fact that many of the families were strongly affected by the tsunami, the interviewers were met in a highly positive and cooperative manner by parents and their children. Many felt it was good to be able to tell their story without interference, and everyone felt that it was important to be able to share their experiences so that the authorities and health personnel are able to be better prepared in the event of new disasters.


Jensen, T. K., Ellestad, A., & Dyb, G. (2013). Children and adolescents’ self-reported coping strategies during the Southeast Asian Tsunami. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 52, 92. doi:10.1111/bjc.12003

Hafstad, G. S., Haavind, H., & Jensen, T. K. (2012). Parenting after a natural disaster: A qualitative study of Norwegian families surviving the 2004 Tsunami in Southeast Asia. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 21(2), 293-302. doi:10.1007/s10826-011-9474-z

Nygaard, E. (2012). Posttraumatic stress reactions of Norwegian children and families after the Southeast Asian tsunami. (Series of Dissertations submitted to the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Oslo 309). (Dissertation).

Nygaard, E., Jensen, T. K., & Dyb, G. (2012). Stability of posttraumatic stress reaction factors and their relation to general mental health problems in children: A longitudinal study. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 41(1), 15-26. doi:10.1080/15374416.2012.632344

Siqveland, J., Hafstad, G. S., & Tedeschi, R. G. (2012). Posttraumatic Growth in Parents After a Natural Disaster. Journal of loss & trauma, 17(6), 536-544. doi:10.1080/15325024.2012.678778

Dyb, G., Jensen, T. K., & Nygaard, E. (2011). Children’s and parents’ posttraumatic stress reactions after the 2004 tsunami. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 16(2), 1-14. doi:10.1177/1359104510391048

Jensen, T. K. (2011). Intervjuer med barn og unge i spesielt vanskelige livssituasjoner. Kan vi snakke med barn om alt? [Interviews with children and adolescents in difficult life situations – Can we talk to children about everything?] Norwegian only. In E. Backe-Hansen & I. Frønes (Red.) Å forske på og med barn og unge- perspektiver og metodologi (pp. 2-3). Gyldendal Akademisk.

Hafstad, G. S., Gil-Rivas, V., Kilmer, R. P., & Raeder, S. (2010). Parental Adjustment, Family Functioning, and Posttraumatic Growth Among Norwegian Children and Adolescents Following a Natural Disaster. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 80(2), 248-257. doi:10.1111/j.1939-0025.2010.01028.x

Hafstad, G. S., Gil-Rivas, V., Kilmer, R., & Raeder, S. (2010). Parental adjustment, family functioning and posttraumatic growth in Norwegian children and adolescents following a natural disaster. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 80(2), 248-257.

Nygaard, E., Jensen, T. K., & Dyb, G. (2010). Posttraumatic Stress Reactions in Siblings After Mutual Disaster: Relevance of Family Factors. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 23(2), 278-281. doi:10.1002/jts.20511

Glad, K. A., Jensen, T. K., Nygaard, E., Dyb, G., & Hafstad, G. S. (2009). Møtet med hjelpeapparatet etter tsunamien – behov og tilfredshet [Satisfaction with norwegian healthcare after the Tsunami.] Norwegian only. Tidsskrift for Norsk Psykologforening, 46(5), 473-475.

Jensen, T. K., Dyb, G., & Nygaard, E. (2009). A Longitudinal Study of Posttraumatic Stress Reactions in Norwegian Children and Adolescents Exposed to the 2004 Tsunami. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 163(9), 856-861. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2009.151

Lindgaard, C. V., Iglebæk, T., & Jensen, T. K. (2009). Changes in Family Functioning in the Aftermath of a Natural Disaster: The 2004 Tsunami in Southeast Asia. Journal of loss & trauma, 14(2), 101-116. doi:10.1080/15325020802537138

Iglebæk, T., & Jensen, T. K. (2008). Barns meningsdannelse under flodbølgekatastrofen i Sørøst–Asia[ Children’s meaningmaking in the wake of a disaster: the tsunami in Southeast Asia.] Norwegian only. Tidsskrift for Norsk Psykologforening, 12, 1488-1497.

Jensen, T. K. (2008). Når katastrofen aldri tar slutt [When the catastrophe never ends.] Norwegian only. Tidsskrift for Norsk Psykologforening, 12, 1486-1487.

Jensen, T. K., Dyb, G., Hafstad, G. S., Nygaard, E., & Lindgaard, C. V. (2008). Tsunamien: Berørte barn og deres familier [The Tsunami: Affected children and their families.] Norwegian only. Oslo: Nasjonalt kunnskapssenter om vold og traumatisk stress. (Rapport 4/2008).

Stormyren, S., & Jensen, T. K. (2008). Verdensanskuelser etter en katastrofe[ Adolescents World Assumptions following the Southeast Asian Tsunami.] Norwegian only. Tidsskrift for Norsk Psykologforening, 12, 1498-1506.