Literature Review of Mental Care for Earthquake-Affected Children

Monday, 22 July 2013

Yasuko Koyano, PhD, RN, PHN
Health Care and Nursing, Juntendo University Graduate school, Chiba, Japan
Yuki Takehara, RN, BS
Juntendo Shizuoka University Hospital, Urayasu-shi, Japan

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to acquire knowledge about the PTSD of the children in the disaster.

Learning Objective 2: When a disaster occurred, the learner make use of this knowledge, and can do the support of an appropriate for children.


The present study was conducted with the aim of clarifying the impact of earthquakes on children, based on their mental and physical changes, with a review of the literature, and discuss support for children with PTSD.

 The Tohoku earthquake, which occurred on March 11th, 2011, was the most powerful earthquake in recorded history in Japan. This situation highlights the risk of significant mental and physical impact on the children, as well as the possibility of onset of PTSD; however, not many studies have been conducted on mental support for disaster-affected children. As Japan is prone to earthquakes and the likelihood of multiple earthquakes is high, research on post-disaster mental support for children is highly needed.


Forty-two documents were extracted from the original and review papers published between 1995 and 2011, using the keywords “earthquake disaster,” “disaster,” “children,” “mental care,” “posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD),” and “family,” in the Japana Centra Revuo Medicina database. After reviewing the abstract of each extracted document, 20 documents were identified as relevant to the present study. A total of 31 documents, including relevant documents which were not found in the database, but were available from other sources in Japan and other countries, were examined.


The results of the literature review clarified the physical and mental symptoms and PTSD symptoms in children as normal defense reactions, and revealed that the attitudes of the family and parents exert the most significant influence on the risk of onset of PTSD in the children.


The present study suggested the need for commitment to disaster preparedness in advance, for provision of support to children based on their expressions of feelings, for provision of support not only for children but for the entire family, the need for multidisciplinary cooperation, and for provision of professional nursing support for PTSD prophylaxis and post-onset treatment.