The results of two studies in the 15 August issue of JAMA report on the psychological status of workers at the Fukushima nuclear power plants in Japan several months after the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, and the amount of internal radiation exposure among residents of a city north of the power plant that experienced a meltdown.
As reported in a Research Letters, Jun Shigemura, M.D., Ph.D., of the National Defense Medical College, Saitama, Japan, and colleagues examined the psychological status of Fukushima workers two to three months after the disaster for symptoms of general psychological distress, including posttraumatic stress response (PTSR). The study included all full-time workers from the Daiichi plant (n = 1,053; plant experienced meltdown) and Daini plant (n = 707; plant experienced damage but remained intact) in May and June 2011. Using a self-report questionnaire, the researchers assessed sociodemographic characteristics and disaster-related experiences, including discrimination/slurs because the electric company that managed these plants was criticized for their disaster response and the workers have been targets of discrimination. Measures of general psychological distress included feeling nervous, hopeless, restless/fidgety, depressed, and worthless in the last 30 days.
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