Impacts of Tsunami Disaster in Thai Elderly Survivors

  • Rangsiman Soonthornchaiya
  • Arunya Tuicomepee
  • John L. Romano


The psychological impact 4 years after 2004 tsunami affected the individual health status and living situation of survivors. Although Thailand rapidly received assistance and success in the relief response, mental trauma is still embedded within individuals. The purpose of this qualitative study was to describe individual experiences regarding to Tsunami impact in Thai elderly survivors after 4 years. Participants were 22 older adults, aged between 60 and 81 years, who had direct experience with various loss from the 2004 tsunami. Semi-structure in-depth interviews, audio-tape recordings, and field notes were used to collect data at participants’ homes. Thematic analysis was use to discover regularities and patterns among descriptions. Three major themes were found: 1) feelings of suffering and missing loved ones were still deep in the minds of participants, 2) coping with stress included reframing thoughts as “plong,” living with life understanding, doing activities for healing, support from family members, and building self-esteem, and 3) engaging in self-care behaviors to heal the mind and body included undergoing continuous care as necessary, seeking care both physical and mental health, and holding mind with Buddhist principle. The findings delineated Tsunami as a stressful life event that has had prolonged affected on individual’s lives. Older adult survivors still suffer from their lost and concern about their children’s lives. Although they found coping to live wisely, these survivors needed professionals helped for continuous care. Findings suggested that health care professionals would continue follow-up care with older adult survivor concern, managed self-care, and coping strategies with religious practice.


Impact Tsunami Elderly survivors Coping Self-care 



Our research team would like to thank all participants for sharing personal experiences. Also, we would thank to the staff at the Takuapa hospital for kindly co-operation. In addition, the research fund was supported by the Faculty of Psychology, Chulalongkorn University, in the fiscal year 2009.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Rangsiman Soonthornchaiya, Arunya Tuicomepee, and John L. Romano declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

After obtaining written informed consent from the participants, the researcher began the interview.

Ethical Treatment of Experimental Subjects (Animal and Human)

All procedures performed in this study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of Chulalongkorn University Institutional Review Board and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration. The research project was approved by Chulalongkorn University Institutional Review Board.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mental Health and Psychiatric Nursing Program, Faculty of NursingThammasat UniversityBangkokThailand
  2. 2.Counseling Psychology Program, Faculty of PsychologyChulalongkorn UniversityBangkokThailand
  3. 3.Counseling and Student Personnel Psychology Program, Department of Educational PsychologyUniversity of MinnesotaMinnesotaUSA

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