Mental Health Impacts of Hurricane Harvey: Examining the Roles of Intimate Partner Violence and Resilience

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Prior research has found that the prevalence and severity of intimate partner violence increase in communities experiencing a disaster. Less studied are the associations between intimate partner violence, disaster exposure, and mental health outcomes following disaster events.

In a recent issue of the journal Social Work Research, co-published by NASW and Oxford University Press, researchers reveal findings from a study of intimate partner violence following a natural disaster. In the study, the authors examined the prevalence of intimate partner violence before and after Hurricane Harvey and the direct and indirect effects of risk (i.e., disaster exposure, intimate partner violence) and resilience on mental health outcomes using structural equation modeling with 382 adults.

Results from the study indicate that exposure to Hurricane Harvey was significantly associated with risk for intimate partner violence, post-traumatic stress (PTS) symptoms, and depression symptoms. In addition, intimate partner violence mediated the relationships between disaster exposure and PTS and depression symptoms. These findings support the need to incorporate intimate partner violence services and resources into disaster mental health services.


The authors:

  • Jennifer M. First, PhD, assistant professor, College of Social Work, University of Tennessee – Knoxville.
  • Kristen E. Ravi, PhD, assistant professor, College of Social Work, University of Tennessee – Knoxville.
  • Sarah Smith-Frigerio, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Communication, University of Tampa.
  • Brian Houston, PhD, professor and chair, Department of Communication, University of Missouri.


The journal Social Work is a benefit of NASW membership. It is available online or, at a member’s request, in print. Children & Schools, Health & Social Work and Social Work Research are available by subscription at a discounted rate for NASW members, either online or in print. You can find out more about the journals and subscriptions at this link.