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Radiation-related anxiety among public health nurses in the Fukushima Prefecture after the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station: a cross-sectional study

24 Oct 2016

Objective

In Japan, public health nurses (PHNs) play important roles in managing the health of local residents, especially after a disaster. In this study, we assessed radiation anxiety and the stress processing capacity of PHNs in the Fukushima Prefecture in Japan, after the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (FDNPS).

Methods

We conducted a questionnaire survey among the PHNs (n=430) in July of 2015 via postal mail. The questions included demographic factors (sex, age and employment position), knowledge about radiation, degree of anxiety about radiation at the time of the FDNPS accident (and at present), by asking them to answer questions about radiation and the Sense of Coherence-13 (SOC-13). We classified the low and high levels of anxiety by asking them to answer questions about radiation, and compared the anxiety-negative (–) group with the anxiety-positive (+) group.

Results

Of the PHNs, 269 (62.6%) were classified in the anxiety (–) group and 161 (37.4%) were in the anxiety (+) group. When the multivariate logistic regression analysis was conducted, the PHNs at the time of the accident (OR: 2.37, p=0.007), current general anxieties about radiation (OR: 3.56, p<0.001), current possession of materials to obtain knowledge about radiation (OR: 2.11, p=0.006) and knowledge of the childhood thyroid cancer increase after the Chernobyl accident (OR: 1.69, p=0.035) were significantly associated with anxiety after the FDNPS accident. The mean SOC-13 was 43.0±7.7, with no significant difference between the anxiety (–) group and anxiety (+) group (p=0.47).

Conclusions

Our study suggested that anxiety about radiation was associated with materials and knowledge about radiation in the PHNs in the Fukushima Prefecture 4 years after the FDNPS accident. It is important for PHNs to obtain knowledge and teaching materials about radiation, and radiation education programmes for PHNs must be established in areas that have nuclear facilities.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in BMJ Open