Relationship between Kilauea's volcanic emissions and symptoms of anxiety and depression in adult residents of Hawai'i Island

by Peot, Jewel M., Psy.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2012, 148 pages; 3541365


Natural disaster occupies world news headlines on an almost-daily basis. On March 12, 2008, Halema'uma'u crater on Hawai'i Island's Kîlauea volcano doubled the amount of volcanic gas (vog) released into the atmosphere, instigating a natural disaster. The new record levels of vog changed the romantic and colorful paradise of the Big Island of Hawai'i to one that is, at times, when vog is present, gray and smoky with limited or no sight of the horizon, open ocean, or large mountain vistas. At least half of Big Island's residents are affected daily and many more people, including those on other islands, are affected regularly. Since the Vietnam War, it has been commonly accepted that disaster and trauma survivors have psychological responses to particular events, although missing is specific research on emotional psychological impact amongst those who voluntarily remain living within an ongoing, thus chronic, disaster environment (F. Tuma, "Mass Trauma Intervention: A Case for Integrating Principles of Behavioral Health With Intervention to Restore Physical Safety, Order, and Infrastructure," 2007). This study aimed to investigate correlating psychological symptoms resulting from exposure to vog on adult residents of Big Island who have remained in an ongoing disaster zone. Utilizing descriptive research design, self-administered survey results were correlated to the corresponding levels of vog. Symptoms of anxiety were assessed by scores from the State-Trait Anxiety Scale for adults. Symptoms of depression were assessed by scores from Beck's Depression Inventory. Levels of vog were attained from Daily Air Quality Stations provided by the State of Hawai'i Department of Health. Farmers' markets in close proximity to the monitoring stations provided a public venue from which the psychological surveys were administered. Results indicated a significant positive correlation between the level of vog and state anxiety levels although no correlation to either trait anxiety or depression.

AdviserAngelo Pimpinelli
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsPublic health; Clinical psychology
Publication Number3541365

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