Post-Traumatic Growth and Resilience Among Medical Students After the March 2011 Disaster in Fukushima, Japan

Halley P. Kaye-Kauderer, Jake Levine, Yuzo Takeguchi, Moeko Machida, Hideharu Sekine, Kanako Taku, Robert Yanagisawa, Craig Katz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


In March of 2011, an earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear accident struck northern Japan causing profound damage to the surrounding area and lasting effects to all those who lived there. Fukushima Medical University (FMU), the closest hospital that remained open during the disaster, was greatly impacted and its students rallied to help the cause. Many of them were directly affected as their neighborhoods were ruined and family and friends were injured or killed. Our study sought to better understand how this disaster impacted their posttraumatic growth and resilience in the wake of the disaster and today, 8 years later. There were three goals of this study. First, we aimed to replicate previous research that showed positive effects of disaster volunteerism on medical students’ posttraumatic growth. Second, we sought to better understand the role of resilience in the wellbeing of these students. Finally, we wanted to explore the advantages to our newly created 10-Factor Resilience Behavioral Scale, which we used alongside the Davidson Trauma Scale (DTS), Posttraumatic Growth Inventory (PTGI-X), and Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC). Overall, 579 responses were collected (response rate of 71.9%). Volunteers continued to show greater PTG as well as greater overall resilience. Furthermore, there were positive correlations between students’ feelings of confusion, anger, sadness, guilt or anxiety and their sense of resilience, both at the time of the disaster and in the most recent month, suggesting that within Japanese culture difficult emotions may promote resilient behaviors and actions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507-518
Number of pages12
JournalPsychiatric Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - 15 Sep 2019


  • 3/11
  • Disaster mental health
  • Natural disasters
  • Posttraumatic growth
  • Resilience


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