Introduction: This study examines how changes in emotional closeness and exchanges of support among family members after Hurricane Sandy affected residents’ psychological outcomes both positively and negatively.
Methods: The working sample included 130 family ties reported by 85 respondents recruited from community and shelter residents on Staten Island after it was seriously damaged by the 2012 Hurricane Sandy. Regression with robust standard errors was used to examine how changes in emotional closeness and exchanges of support with adult family members affected respondents’ posttraumatic psychological distress and posttraumatic growth.
Results: Results showed psychological distress was significantly increased with higher levels of instrumental support received from family members; whereas posttraumatic growth was significantly increased with greater improved emotional closeness with family members. In addition, having higher levels of education was associated with lower levels of psychological distress and respondents from shelters showed higher levels of posttraumatic growth than those who were from the community.
Discussion: It is suggested that after a significant disaster, although a family may be the best to take care of its members’ emotional needs, it should not be expected to satisfy the instrumental needs of its members. In addition, posttraumatic psychological distress and growth are not necessarily opposite to each other; the psychological well- being of residents after a disaster needs to be carefully examined from both perspectives.