Natural disasters are unpredictable and uncontrollable events that usually induce significant level of stress and social disruption in afflicted individuals. The consequences are formidable, affecting lifetime health and economic prosperity. Among natural disasters, floods are the most common causes and tend to have the highest economic burden. The aim of this study was to examine factors associated with child resilience in the face of the natural disaster experienced by the city of Calgary, Alberta, Canada during its unprecedented flood of 2013.
The current study was conducted in a community-based cohort situated in the city of Calgary. The participants were recruited out of the All Our Families longitudinal cohort within the Cummings School of Medicine at the University of Calgary. Of the total 1711 people contacted, 469 people consented and completed questionnaire. Of those 469 who consented to be part of the study, 467 were eligible to be included for analysis. A flood impact questionnaire was delivered 6 months after the 2013 flood in families whose children were an average of 3 years old. Mother reported questionnaires were used to assess child resilience. The study included maternal data on a range of factors including socio-demographic, history of mental health, relationship with the partner and social support. Child related data were also incorporated into the study, and variables included delivery mode, child sex, and child age at the time of disaster.
Child resilience was best predicted by mother’s age and social support, and by child gender, the child’s externalizing and internalizing behaviors and the Rothbart temperament scale: effortful control. Furthermore, this study revealed that children who were more exposed to the flood events, showed higher resilience compared to the children who were less or not exposed.
These findings highlight the risk and protective factors that predict child resilience and suggest that mother reported questionnaire are useful tools to assess child resilience amidst early life adversity.