Changes in Risk Perception of the Health Effects of Radiation and Mental Health Status: The Fukushima Health Management Survey.
ABSTRACT: After the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident, numerous evacuees reported poor mental health status and high-risk perceptions of the health effects of radiation. However, the temporal associations between these variables have not yet been examined. Using data from the Fukushima Health Survey, we examined changes in risk perception of the health effects of radiation over time and assessed the effects of mental health on such changes using logistic regression analysis. Risk perception for delayed effect pertains a brief on health effect in later life (delayed effect), whereas that of genetic effect pertains a brief on health effect of future children and grandchildren (genetic effect). We found that many participants showed consistently high or low-risk perceptions over all three study years (2011?2013) (for delayed effect: 59% and 41% of participants were in the low and high-risk perception groups, respectively; for genetic effect: 47% and 53%, respectively). Stronger traumatic reactions (≥50 on the PTSD Checklist?Specific) significantly affected the odds of being in the high-risk perception group for the delayed and genetic effects, with the associations being strongest soon after the disaster: The adjusted ORs (95%CIs) were 2.05 (1.82?2.31), 1.86 (1.61?2.15), and 1.88 (1.62?2.17) for the delayed effect in 2011, 2012, and 2013, respectively, and 2.18 (1.92?2.48), 2.05 (1.75?2.40), and 1.82 (1.55?2.15) for the genetic effect. As initial mental health status had the strongest impact on later risk perceptions of radiation, it should be considered in early response and communication efforts.
Project description:One of biggest public health impacts of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station accident is psychosocial. Anxiety about radiation is still present, and radiation risk perception, particularly with regard to genetic effects, is known to affect mental health. However, roles of other risk factors such as health anxiety and of mindfulness remain to be proved. Here, we examined how radiation risk perception (genetic effects) mediates in health anxiety and psychological distress, and how mindfulness influences those variables. Seven years after the accident, we commissioned a self-reported online survey with 832 participants, 416 each from Fukushima and Tokyo, and modeled the relationship between those variables using Structural Equation Modeling. Health anxiety had a much stronger influence on psychological distress than radiation risk perception. Mindfulness was significantly correlated with both health anxiety and psychological distress, but not with radiation risk perception. The total effects on psychological distress were -0.38 by mindfulness and +0.38 by health anxiety. These results suggest the potential application of mindfulness-based interventions to alleviate health anxiety and psychological distress rather than therapy focused on radiation anxiety. The results underline the effectiveness of community support efforts in Fukushima and highlight the importance of enhancing mindfulness during the chronic phase following a disaster.
Project description:The purpose of this study was to provide a review of the publications of the risk perceptions or anxiety regarding radiation among people living in Japan after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant accident. Two database (MEDLINE and PsycINFO) and hand-searched the references in identified publications were searched. For each identified publication, the measurements and time related-change of risk perception and anxiety regarding radiation were summarized. Twenty-four publications were identified. Quantitative measures of risk perception or anxiety were roughly divided into two types: single-item Likert scales that measure anxiety about radiation; and theoretical, or model-based measures. Rates of Fukushima residents with radiation-related anxiety decreased from 2012 to 2015. Factors governing risk perception or radiation-related anxiety were summarized by demographics, disaster-related stressors, trusted information, and radiation-related variables. The effects of risk perception or anxiety regarding radiation were summarized as severe distress, intention to leave employment or not to return home, or other dimensions. This review provides summary of current findings on risk perception or anxiety regarding radiation in Japan after the accident. Further researches are needed about detailed statistical analysis for time-related change and causality among variables.
Project description:We aimed to explore the effects of prolonged radiation risk perceptions on mental health after the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident occurred in 2011. We investigated the longitudinal associations of radiation risk perceptions five years after the accident with psychological distress and posttraumatic stress symptoms two years later among non-evacuee community residents of Fukushima prefecture. A two-wave questionnaire survey was administered for 4,900 randomly sampled residents in 49 municipalities of Fukushima prefecture excluding the evacuation area designated by the Japanese government. Radiation risk perceptions were assessed with a seven-item scale. Psychological distress and posttraumatic stress symptoms were measured by the K6 and the six-item abbreviated version of the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist-Specific version, respectively. We investigated the associations of radiation risk perceptions in the first survey conducted in 2016 with psychological distress and posttraumatic stress symptoms in the follow-up survey conducted in 2017-18, controlling for the baseline level of distress or symptoms using multivariate logistic regression analyses. Valid responses were obtained from 1,148 residents (23.4%). Higher risk perceptions of radiation exposure in the first survey predicted later posttraumatic stress symptoms but not psychological distress after controlling for baseline symptoms or distress. High risk perceptions of radiation exposure after nuclear power plant accidents can lead to posttraumatic stress symptoms.
Project description:Reconstruction has progressed steadily since the 2011 TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station accident. However, some people still hesitate to eat foods from Fukushima or to travel there, and there are concerns about the health risks of radiation. We investigated the relationships among reconstruction-related behavior, risk perception, types of information, and information sources, in order to consider appropriate measures for providing information and promoting reconstruction-related behavior a number of years after the accident. We conducted an online questionnaire survey (n = 1000) of Tokyo residents. First, a factor analysis was conducted on knowledge associated with radiation. Two factors were extracted; namely, "physical knowledge" and "health/social knowledge." We conducted structural equation modeling to construct a model of "knowledge," "radiation risk perception," and "intention concerning reconstruction-related behavior." "Intention concerning reconstruction-related behavior" decreased with "radiation risk perception" and increased with "health/social knowledge." In addition, "health/social knowledge" negatively affected "radiation risk perception;" this effect was not large, but it was significant. Second, respondents were clarified by information sources using a cluster analysis. Clusters that included respondents who got information from public relations materials issued by municipalities and websites of administrative agencies had a higher factor score for "health/social knowledge" than other clusters. The cluster of respondents who did not get any particular knowledge had the lowest factor score, which was significant, and also had a low "perception of reconstruction."
Project description:In the wake of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station accident, to facilitate evidence-based risk communication we need to understand radiation risk perception and the effectiveness of risk-comparison information. We measured and characterized perceptions of dread risks and unknown risks regarding dietary radionuclides in residents of Fukushima, Tokyo, and Osaka to identify the primary factors among location, evacuation experience, gender, age, employment status, absence/presence of spouse, children and grandchildren, educational background, humanities/science courses, smoking habits, and various types of trustworthy information sources. We then evaluated the effects of these factors and risk-comparison information on multiple outcomes, including subjective and objective understanding, perceived magnitude of risk, perceived accuracy of information, backlash against information, and risk acceptance. We also assessed how risk-comparison information affected these multiple outcomes for people with high risk perception. Online questionnaires were completed by people (n = 9249) aged from 20 to 69 years in the three prefectures approximately 5 years after the accident. We gave each participant one of 15 combinations of numerical risk data and risk-comparison information, including information on standards, smoking-associated risk, and cancer risk, in accordance with Covello's guidelines. Dread-risk perception among Fukushima residents with no experience of evacuation was much lower than that in Osaka residents, whereas evacuees had strikingly higher dread-risk perception, irrespective of whether their evacuation had been compulsory or voluntary. We identified location (distance from the nuclear power station), evacuation experience, and trust of central government as primary factors. Location (including evacuation experience) and trust of central government were significantly associated with the multiple outcomes above. Only information on "cancer risk from radiation and smoking risk" enhanced both subjective and objective understanding without diminishing trust in all participants and in the high dread-risk perception group; use of other risk-comparison information could lead the public to overestimate risk.
Project description:Following the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident, the risk level perceived by Koreans on the radioactive contamination of Japanese food that is being distributed in Korea remains high. Many of these perceptions are based on subjective risk perception rather than an objective measure with scientific evidence, which makes communicating risks more difficult; therefore, it is critical to understand factors associated with risk perception for effective risk communication. In this study, we identified variables that are associated with buying tendencies and opinions about the regulatory policy of Japanese seafood after the accident. A survey was conducted with 1045 adults aged over 20 years in Korea. The majority (68.8%) responded that they would not purchase Japanese seafood when radioactivity levels in the food were non-detectable. Moreover, 82.2% responded that the current levels of import restrictions on Japanese seafood must be maintained. Despite many concerns regarding the exposure to radiation and the effects from food products following the Fukushima accident, the opportunities to encounter and to collect correct information remain limited and average radioactive knowledge scores were low (3.63 out of 9). Of the various characteristics associated with purchase decisions and agreement on the current import restraints of Japanese seafood, trust levels in the government and the mass media for providing information on radioactivity were major factors that influenced risk perception. While the scope of this study was limited to seafood, it is very closely tied to daily lives, where we revealed differences about risk perceptions and agreement on import restraints of Japanese seafood per a complex mixture of individual characteristics and the surrounding environment. These results provide useful information to understand the risk perception of the potential radioactive contamination of food and to predict the public's responses to food consumption and import restraint policies due to nuclear accidents in neighboring countries.
Project description:The increase in risk for late-onset thyroid cancer due to radiation exposure is a potential health effect after a nuclear power plant accident mainly due to the release of radioiodine in fallout. The risk is particularly elevated in those exposed during infancy and adolescence. To estimate the possibility and extent of thyroid cancer occurrence after exposure, it is of utmost importance to collect and analyze epidemiological information providing the basis for evaluation of radiation risk, and to consider radiobiology and molecular genetics. In this regard, the dose-response of cancer risk, temporal changes in the rates of thyroid cancer, its histopathological types and subtypes, and frequency of underlying genetic abnormalities are important. At present, however, it is difficult or impossible to distinguish radiation-induced thyroid cancer from spontaneous/sporadic thyroid cancer because molecular radiation signatures, biomarkers of radiation exposure, or genetic factors specific to radiation-induced cancer have not yet been identified. The large-scale ultrasound screening in Fukushima Prefecture of Japan demonstrated a high detection rate of thyroid cancer in young individuals, revealing 116 and 71 cases in the first and second rounds, respectively, among the same cohort of approximately 300,000 subjects. These findings raised concerns among residents and the public that it might be due to putative exposure to radiation from the accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. This review summarizes evaluations by international organizations and reviews scientific publications by the authors and others on childhood thyroid cancer, especially those relevant to radiation, including basic studies on molecular mechanisms of thyroid carcinogenesis. Clinical details are also provided on surgical cases in Fukushima Prefecture, and the effect of thyroid ultrasound screening is discussed. Correct understanding of issues relating to radiation and the thyroid are essential for interpretation of thyroid cancer in Fukushima.
Project description:Fukushima residents' negative views on the safety of water and air environments have been a concern since the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear power plant (FDNPP) accident. The objective of this study was to clarify the factors determining these negative views and their association with radiation risk perception using the opinion poll conducted by Fukushima Prefecture from 2010 to 2015. In a model, in which the objective variables were the views on the safety of water and air environments, and the explanatory variables were the regions constituting Fukushima and the age and sex of the residents, the odds ratio (OR) of the views on the safety of the water and air environments (reference region: the least affected region) was significantly low at 0.11 [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.04-0.28] to 0.18 (0.07-0.46) in the Hamadori region including the evacuation order area, from the accident in 2011 to 2015, with the exception of 2014. In another model, in which the region was excluded from the explanatory variables and radiation risk perception, the distance from the FDNPP and the air dose rate were added to the previous model as an explanatory variable, the views on the safety of the water and air environments were strongly associated with low radiation risk perception (low anxiety) in 2012-2015 [OR: 7.73 (5.25-11.4) to 10.3 (6.71-15.8)], distance from FDNPP, and age, but not with air dose rate. This result suggests that the radiation risk perception, distance from FDNPP, and age were factors determining people's views on the safety of the water and air environment.
Project description:In response to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster, the Nuclear Regulation Authority of Japan issued the new "Nuclear Emergency Response Guideline." However, there is a perception that scientific information about the health impact of radiation exposure has not been adequately shared among the local government staffs, including schoolteachers. We contacted schoolteachers at all 120 schools within the Urgent Protective Action Planning Zone of the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant, Kagoshima prefecture, in 2017. We invited them to take part in a written survey to clarify their concerns and risk perceptions regarding the effects of radiation exposure on health. Five hundred and fifty schoolteachers' replies were included in the analysis. The results revealed that 355 schoolteachers had concerns about the health effects of radiation exposure due to working within the Urgent Protective Action Planning Zone. A logistic regression analysis revealed that sex (OR = 2.26, 95% CI: 1.49-3.45, p < 0.001), age (OR = 3.39, 95% CI: 2.10-5.47, p < 0.001), reluctance to undergo a radiological examination at a hospital (OR = 1.91, 95% CI: 1.23-2.88, p = 0.004), place of work (OR = 2.18, 95% CI: 1.46-3.27, p < 0.001), and anxiety about having to address questions about radiation from students (OR = 4.66, 95% CI: 2.83-7.67, p < 0.001) were independently associated with schoolteachers' concerns about the health effects of radiation exposure due to working in the area around the nuclear power plant. Therefore, it is important to respond to these concerns in order to establish a meaningful education program for school children on radiation and its health effects.
Project description:Predictive factors including risk perception for mid-term mental health after a nuclear disaster remain unknown. The purpose of this study was to examine the association between perceived radiation risk and other factors at baseline and mid-term mental health after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster of 2011 in Japan. A mail-based questionnaire survey was conducted in January 2012 and January 2013. Mental health status was assessed using the K6 scale. Psychological distress over the 2-year period was categorized into the following four groups: chronic, recovered, resistant, or worsened. Most participants (80.3%) were resistant to the disaster. A positive association was found between the radiation risk perception regarding immediate effects and the worsened group in women. Baseline post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or a history of psychiatric disease predicted being in the chronic or worsened group in mid-term course. These results suggest that evacuees who believed that their health was substantially affected by the nuclear disaster were at an increased risk of having poor mid-term mental health in women. Careful assessment of risk perception after a nuclear disaster, including the presence of PTSD or a history of psychiatric disease, is needed for appropriate interventions.