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Tsunami-affected Scandinavian tourists: Disaster exposure and post-traumatic stress symptoms

Past researchers have proved that there are short and long-term effects of natural disasters. For instance, when tsunami struck the Asian coast on 26th December 2004, hundreds of Thailand citizens lost their lives. Several tourists also lost their lives. However, whereas a high number of local survivors has been diagnosed with post traumatic disorder (Thavichachart, 2009), little is known about the tourist survivors who returned to their stable society after being exposed to the deadly tsunami. The aim of this research was to identify the relationship between the exposure of the 2004 deadly Asian tsunami and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in three Scandinavian countries whose citizens were affected by the tsunami.  


The national police in the Scandinavian countries recorded all tourists on return to their countries after the tsunami. Among these tourists 2,640 were Norwegian, 2,254 were Danish and 12,840 were Swedish. The population of the research however comprised of 2,468 Norwegians, 2,174 Danish and 9,592 Swedish. In total 6,772 questionnaires were retuned. However, a number of the respondents were excluded from the study because of missing and unreliable data. All the respondents were adults above 18 years of age. There were little differences between the respondent and the non-respondents. The number of men respondent was higher than that of the women though there was no notable difference in terms of age distribution. Most of the non-respondents were less likely to be affected by the exposure to tsunami and had little symptoms of post traumatic disorder as compared to those who responded (Heir et al. 2011).

How the research was conducted

The research was mainly carried out through questionnaires. The research questionnaires were developed in Norway. The research was initiated in Norway 6 months after the tourists returned from Asia. In Denmark it started 10 months after the disaster and it was 14 months after the tsunami. The number of respondents from each country was recorded. In Norway and Sweden a 22-item questionnaire was used while in Denmark a 17-item questionnaire was preferred. The questionnaire consisted of all aspects of stressful events and required the respondent to identify their level of exposure and whether they felt that the exposure was dangerous, non-dangerous or no exposure at all.

The research fits the survey/questionnaire research. This is because the research questions were mailed to the respondents. The data from the research was analyzed after the respondents had returned their questionnaires (Brace, 2008).

The research measured the three levels of exposure to a natural disaster. These levels are danger-exposure, non-danger exposure and no exposure at all. The respondents were under instructions to respond to all questions. The level of exposure was later analyzed for each country and their relationship with post-traumatic stress disorder was determined. 


For the three groups the research results indicated that the respondents who had been dangerously exposed to the tsunami had a high level of post-traumatic stress symptoms than those in non-danger exposure. However, those under non-danger exposure had some symptoms when compared to those who were not exposed. The research was initiated first in Norway and the research concluded that in the first six months after the tsunami the symptoms were more in Norway compared to the time the research was conducted in Sweden and Denmark. The findings showed that there was a relationship between exposure to a natural disaster and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms (Heir et al, 2011). 

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