Polycythemia, Mental Health & the Great East Japan Earthquake

Research Paper Title

Relationship between the prevalence of polycythemia and factors observed in the mental health and lifestyle survey after the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Background

The researchers have been examining the Comprehensive Health Check of the Fukushima Health Management Survey of residents of 13 municipalities who were forced by the government to evacuate due to the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake (GEJE).

Their findings showed that evacuation is a risk factor for polycythemia and suggested that experiencing an unprecedented disaster and exposure to chronic stress due to evacuation might be a cause of polycythemia.

Methods

The researchers analysed the relationship between the prevalence of polycythemia and the following factors observed in the Mental Health and Lifestyle Survey in an observational study with a cross-sectional design:

  • Traumatic symptoms;
  • Depression status;
  • Socioeconomic factors such as residential environment; and
  • Working situation after the GEJE.

Target population of the survey included men and women who were at least 15 years of age and who lived in the evacuation zones specified by the government.

Participants analysed consisted of 29,474 persons (12,379 men and 16,888 women) who had participated in both the 2011 Comprehensive Health Check and Mental Health and Lifestyle Survey from June 2011 through March 2012.

Results

The prevalence of polycythemia was not associated with mental states associated with traumatic symptoms (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Checklist Scale ≥ 44) and depression status (Kessler 6-item Scale ≥ 13).

Furthermore, multivariate analysis showed that there was a tendency for males to develop polycythemia, with characteristics such as:

  • Being aged 65 years and older;
  • Highly educated;
  • Obese (body mass index ≥ 25);
  • Hypertensive;
  • Diabetic;
  • Having liver dysfunction; and
  • A smoker being significantly related to the prevalence of polycythemia.

Conclusions

The researchers state their findings conclusively demonstrated that polycythemia was not significantly related to psychological factors, but was significantly related to the onset of lifestyle-related disease after the GEJE.

Reference

Sakai, A., Nakano, H., Ohira, T., Maeda, M., Okazaki, K., Takahashi, A., Kawasaki, Y., Satoh, H., Ohtsuru, A., Shimabukuro, M., Kazama, J., Hashimoto, S., Hosoya, M., Yasumura, S., Yabe, H., Ohto, H., Kamiya, K. & Fukushima Health Management Survey Group. (2020) Relationship between the prevalence of polycythemia and factors observed in the mental health and lifestyle survey after the Great East Japan Earthquake. Medicine (Baltimore). 99(1):e18486. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000018486.

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