Journal Article Association between shelter crowding and incidence of sleep disturbance among disaster evacuees: A retrospective medical chart review study

Kawano, Takahisa  ,  Nishiyama, Kei  ,  Morita, Hiroshi  ,  Yamamura, Osamu  ,  Hiraide, Atsuchi  ,  Hasegawa, Kohei

6 ( 1 ) 2016-01-13 , BMJ Publishing Group
Objectives: We determined whether crowding at emergency shelters is associated with a higher incidence of sleep disturbance among disaster evacuees and identified the minimum required personal space at shelters. Design: Retrospective review of medical charts. Setting: 30 shelter-based medical clinics in Ishinomaki, Japan, during the 46 days following the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in 2011. Participants: Shelter residents who visited eligible clinics. Outcome measures: Based on the result of a locally weighted scatter-plot smoothing technique assessing the relationship between the mean space per evacuee and cumulative incidence of sleep disturbance at the shelter, eligible shelters were classified into crowded and non-crowded shelters. The cumulative incidence per 1000 evacuees was compared between groups, using a Mann-Whitney U test. To assess the association between shelter crowding and the daily incidence of sleep disturbance per 1000 evacuees, quasi-least squares method adjusting for potential confounders was used. Results: The 30 shelters were categorised as crowded (mean space per evacuee <5.0 m2, 9 shelters) or noncrowded (≥5.0 m2, 21 shelters). The study included 9031 patients. Among the eligible patients, 1079 patients (11.9%) were diagnosed with sleep disturbance. Mean space per evacuee during the study period was 3.3 m2 (SD, 0.8 m2) at crowded shelters and 8.6 m2 (SD, 4.3 m2) at non-crowded shelters. The median cumulative incidence of sleep disturbance did not differ between the crowded shelters (2.3/1000 person-days (IQR, 1.6-5.4)) and non-crowded shelters (1.9/1000 person-days (IQR, 1.0-2.8); p=0.20). In contrast, after adjusting for potential confounders, crowded shelters had an increased daily incidence of sleep disturbance (2.6 per 1000 person-days; 95% CI 0.2 to 5.0/1000 person-days, p=0.03) compared to that at non-crowded shelters. Conclusions: Crowding at shelters may exacerbate sleep disruptions in disaster evacuees; therefore, appropriate evacuation space requirements should be considered.

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