In the Aftermath: The Effects of Hurricanes Harvey and Maria on the Well-Being of Health-Care and Social Service Providers

Tara M. Powell, Paula J. Yuma, Jennifer Scott, Alexia Suarez, Ivelisse Morales, Mara Vinton, Miguel Marrero, Shang Ju Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Health-care and social service providers affected by climate-related disasters play a pivotal role in response and recovery but yet are at a disproportionate risk for mental health symptoms such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), secondary traumatic stress, anxiety, and burnout. Factors such as social support and resilience may protect these providers from stress related symptoms. To explore providers' responses to recent disasters, this study examined mental health distress, work-related stress, and protective factors in Texas and Puerto Rico-both of which were struck by hurricanes in 2017. This study was conducted with N = 1,101 health-care and social service providers 10 to 12 months after hurricanes Harvey and Maria. Providers completed measures of PTSD, anxiety, burnout, secondary traumatic stress, compassion satisfaction, social support, and resilience. Frequencies were calculated to determine percentages of those who scored above the clinical cutoff for mental health symptoms. One-way analyses of variance explored differences in mental health symptoms between Texas and Puerto Rico. Bivariate correlations examined the relationships between all measures. Puerto Rican participants scored significantly higher on measures of PTSD, anxiety, and compassion satisfaction. Participants in Texas reported significantly higher burnout and resilience. Measures of PTSD, anxiety, burnout, and secondary traumatic stress were positively correlated. Social support, resilience, and compassion satisfaction were inversely correlated with measures of distress. Findings confirm high rates of mental health distress among providers during the disaster recovery. Given our findings, it is critical for accessible, evidence-informed interventions be available for providers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019


  • Anxiety
  • Postdisaster
  • PTSD
  • Resilience
  • Secondary traumatic stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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