2019 Volume 247 Issue 1 Pages 13-17
Psychological distress has become a serious health risk after the Fukushima nuclear accident. Although, following the lifting of evacuation orders, the affected people have started returning home, their current status of psychological distress has not been reported yet. Here, we report the levels of psychological distress in both returnees and evacuees by using a K6 indicator. In January 2018, questionnaires were randomly distributed among 2,000 people, aged 20 to 79 years old, who were registered on the Basic Resident Register in the evacuation order areas of nine municipalities where residents have now started returning home. The total number of participants was 625. The returnees showed a significantly better psychological distress status than the evacuees. Multivariate-adjusted odds ratios (95% confidence intervals) among the returnees (reference = evacuees), estimated from a logistic analysis by using age, sex, and annual income as covariates, were 0.525 (0.325-0.846) for K6 ≥ 10 and 0.444 (0.216-0.911) for K6 ≥ 13. The prevalence of K6 ≥ 10 in the returnees when adjusted by the age and sex distribution of the whole of Japan was 16.2%, higher than the value (10.3%) at 20 to 79 years old in the whole of Japan. Psychological distress among the evacuees is an urgent problem to be resolved, and social support is still necessary for the returnees. Long term follow-up of returnees, investigations of causality between return and psychological distress and its governing factors in each of the evacuee and returnee groups are required for the implementation of effective countermeasures.