Increase in the number of admissions to psychiatric hospitals immediately after the Great East Japan Earthquake

Atsushi Sakuma, Ikki Ueda, Shigehito Rengi, Toshiyasu Shingai, Hiroo Matsuoka, Kazunori Matsumoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Major natural disasters have a significant impact on the mental health of survivors in affected communities. Although it has been speculated that the number of survivors requiring admission to psychiatric hospital increases immediately after a major disaster, few studies have examined the issue. Methods: On March 11, 2011, the Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent tsunami devastated the relatively isolated city of Kesennuma. We therefore compared the weekly number of patients admitted to 2 psychiatric hospitals in Kesennuma in the 4 weeks immediately after the earthquake with those in the 4 weeks immediately preceding the earthquake. We also made comparisons between this 8-week period and the corresponding 8-week periods in 2009, 2010, and 2012. Results: The number of patients admitted to the 2 psychiatric hospitals increased in 4 weeks after the disaster in 2011, with a weekly median (range) of 13 (9-16), compared with 6 (5-9) in the preceding 4 weeks in 2011. The corresponding figures were 5.5 (2-10) in 2009, 6.5 (5-9) in 2010, and 4 (3-7) in 2012 (P =.01, H = 13.05). By diagnostic category, admissions for schizophrenia spectrum disorder and neurotic stress-related disorder increased significantly following the disaster. Discussion: Demands for inpatient psychiatric treatment increased immediately after the Great East Japan Earthquake. Government officials and mental health professionals must strengthen support for survivors with mental illness, especially those with schizophrenia spectrum disorder. This should include support for mental health authorities and medical staff in the affected community.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12307
JournalAsia-Pacific Psychiatry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Sep


  • disaster medicine
  • natural disaster
  • patient admission
  • psychiatric hospitals
  • schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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