UBC Theses and Dissertations
Impact from an interface wildfire, place attachment, and depression : a survey of two rural communities Handler, Risa Jordana
Disaster recovery research has overlooked the important role of place attachment in recovery to a natural disaster, particularly its association with the initial impact on residents and their mental health. Although increased depression immediately following a natural disaster is well documented, there is a paucity of research that has examined the long-term effects of natural disasters on depressive symptoms. Thus, I examined the relationship between the initial impact of a wildfire on residents of two rural communities in British Columbia (3.5 years prior), their current perceptions of attachment to their community, and their current symptoms of depression. The 2003 McLure Wildfire provides the context for the present exploratory study. I employed a cross-sectional survey design. A sample of 104 male and female residents, with an average age of 56 years, was recruited from both Louis Creek and Barriere to complete self-report measures. I developed two instruments for use in the present study; one assessed the initial impact of the wildfire and the other perceptions of current place attachment. Factor analyses supported the structural validity of the instruments; three factors represented place attachment dimensions (social, natural, and built environments), and one represented change in attachment. Depressive symptoms were measured using a 10-item short version of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (Andresen, Malmgren, Carter, & Patrick, 1994). Hierarchical multiple regression (HMR) analyses showed that the greater impact the wildfire had on respondents, the (a) less attached to the built environment they felt, and (b) the greater their symptoms of depression. Furthermore, feeling less attached to the natural environment was related to greater symptoms of depression. Age and marital status were controlled for in HMR analyses predicting attachment and depressive symptoms. Although Louis Creek respondents experienced higher mean levels of impact and depressive symptoms, compared with those from Barriere, once age and/or marital status were controlled for, community differences were not statistically significant. The findings support a multidimensional framework of place attachment. Limitations and implications for further research, including the development of a valid measure of place attachment, are discussed.
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