Introduction: Among earthquake survivors, children are more vulnerable than other age groups due to their exposure to harrowing scenes of devastation as well as their drastically new living situations that result from an earthquake disaster. The life process of children survivors undergoes many different changes that are affected by a wide range of factors. Understanding the life process of these children may lead to effective outcomes and interventions. In addition, observing children survivors establishes knowledge and understanding of the challenges that correspond with earthquake disasters. Further, observing this group may be further effective in decision-making and establishing types of assistance in similar circumstances.
Objectives: This study was done to explain the life process of children who survived the earthquake of Manjil in northern side of Iran.
Methods: This qualitative study is based on the grounded theory approach. The sampling involved purposive interviews with 12 children who survived the Manjil earthquake and were under 12 years of age at the time of the earthquake. The initial interviews were followed by continuous comparative analysis, and thus the sampling process adopted a theoretical trend. In the end, by the formation of categories and the central variable of the study, interviews were conducted with 16 subjects and sufficient data was provided. Data was collected through face-to-face, in-depth interviews using an interview guide. In order to enrich the categories formed in data analysis, we had also 6 telephone interviews with the same participants in order to complete missed needed information. Data collection began in 2015 and continued up until 2016. Data was analysed using the Strauss-Corbin approach.
Results: The life process of children earthquake survivors consists of ‘unexpected encounter’, ‘transient relief activities’ and ‘long-lasting consequences’. The central variable of this study is ‘the dark shadow of pain and the light shadow of life expectancy’. The life experience of this group of children is immersed in painful memories and varies under different conditions.
Discussion and Conclusion: According to the results of this study, one of the factors affecting the lives of children earthquake survivors which could threaten their health is providing non-specific and transient services. Training relief staff to consider the specific needs of these children at the time of the rescue operation could contribute to improving their health level in various aspects. Considering the effective and comprehensive rehabilitation program in Disaster Management by policymakers can prevent permanent complications caused by earthquakes. Planning and taking action to identify misbehaviours in this group of children as well as raising public awareness, particularly for parents, on how to manage the outcomes of natural disasters are some of the most significant public health priorities. Providing public mental health services for parents and children who survive an earthquake helps to address potential psychological problems in this group of survivors.