Background: As many local municipality and medical workers were involved in disaster recovery duties following the Great East Japan Earthquake (GEJE) on March 11, 2011, the aim of this work was to elucidate the distinct trajectories for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and associated factors among these personnel. They confronted a diverse range of stressors both as survivors and as relief workers; however, little is known about their longitudinal PTSD symptoms. Methods: The participants were 745 local municipality and hospital medical workers [average age: 43.6 ± 9.5 years, range: 20 – 66 years; 306 (59%) women] involved in disaster recovery duties following the GEJE. PTSD symptoms were measured using the Japanese version of the PTSD Checklist Specific Version (PCL-S) at four time points: 14, 30, 43, and 54 months after the GEJE. Using group-based trajectory modeling, distinct trajectories were elucidated. Results: We identified five distinct PTSD symptoms profiles: resistance (n = 467, 62.7%), subsyndromal (n = 181, 24.3%), recovery (n = 47, 6.3%), fluctuating (n = 26, 3.5%), and chronic (n = 24, 3.2%). The trajectories differed according to the post-disaster working conditions and personal disaster experiences. Limitations: Potential selection bias resulting from the limited number of participants who completed all waves. The survey was conducted in one region of the disaster area. Conclusions: The majority of participants remained stable, with a relatively small group classified as chronic and fluctuating. Our results highlight the importance of improved working conditions and sustained monitoring of workers responding to natural disasters.
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