Information-Seeking and Use of Primary Care Mental Health Services among Gulf Coast Survivors of Natural Disasters

Nia F. Mason, Diane B. Francis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objectives: This study sought to understand factors related to weather-related disaster survivors' health information and mental health-care-seeking behaviors. Methods: In November 2017, we conducted a quantitative survey of 170 Gulf Coast residents who experienced weather-related disasters. The survey assessed how individual and psychosocial factors affect health-care-seeking behavior. Results: Nearly 66% of participants reported a high frequency of depression and/or anxiety symptoms, yet only 39% saw a medical professional. Of participants who visited a medical professional, 76% sought information from nonmedical sources. Seeking medical care was strongly correlated with seeking information from nonmedical sources and previous healthcare experiences, but not with fear and stigma. Conclusions: Positive communication and strong support systems have the potential to mitigate the reluctance people have in seeking help for mental health problems. Although it is discouraging that few people seek professional care, it is promising that participants were not avoiding care due to fear of being stigmatized. Less opposition to mental health care by survivors offers opportunity for mental health professionals to treat the psychological problems survivors experience. Providing necessary information may make headway to mental health care where it is greatly needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)735-740
Number of pages6
JournalDisaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 6 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Society for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, Inc.


  • Communication
  • Community mental health services
  • Natural disasters

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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