The tsunami disaster on the 26th of December 2004 was one of the biggest natural disasters of modern times.
Like others nations, Norwegian crisis relief personnel were deployed to the tsunami area where they were confronted with extremely stressful scenes, some witnessed grotesque sights and some had direct contact with disaster victims, some also experienced situations where they had to turn down people in need.
Such stressful events can have consequences on work performance and/or on the health of those deployed.
The study assessed:
- What type of work tasks and stressful events relief workers were subjected to.
- Assess how many developed stress reactions and burn-out symptoms.
- Identify factors that were most important in healthy stress management during deployment.
First and foremost the results showed that the crisis relief personnel handled the challenges they faced well and that they were a resourceful group of individuals.
In all three groups studied (those that “were there” when the disaster hit, those that “travelled to the disaster area” and those that worked “from home”) the majority felt that the work that they accomplished was meaningful and successful.
A substantial proportion of individuals in the three groups also reported experiencing being pressured for time, lack of rest/ and that it wasn’t possible to be well rested during their deployment, and that they pushed themselves quite hard due to high expectations.
Only about half of the personnel felt that they received adequate advice and support during their assignment.
The results also pointed to some beneficial factors that can be important in preventing stress and burn-out.