Youth psychosocial adjustment following wildfire: The role of family resilience, emotional support, and concrete support.


Background: Natural disasters can have a significant impact on youth and family mental health and well-being. However, the relationship between family protective factors and youth adjustment in the aftermath of disaster remains unclear. Objective: In order to address the present gaps in the field, this study investigated perceived disaster-related stress and its relationship to family protective factors, prosocial behaviors, and emotional symptoms (anxiety, depression, anger, and psychosomatic complaints) following wildfire exposure. Methods: Participants included 50 youth (M = 14.49 years old; SD = 3.61; 50 % female) who were residing in the family home at the time of the wildfire. Parent report was also provided. Hierarchical multiple regressions, controlling for age and gender, were used to predict prosocial behaviors and emotional symptoms, and test the moderating role of individual protective factors. Results: Youth gender and perceived parental emotional support were significantly related to youth-reported emotional symptoms, but youth perceived fire-related stress was not. Emotional support significantly moderated the relationship between fire-related stress and parent report of youth prosocial behaviors. Specifically, under conditions of high fire stress, emotional support mitigated the relationship between stress and prosocial behaviors. Conclusions: Results provide data to support the importance of incorporating positive outcome measures into disaster research studies and highlight the importance of investigating factors that lead to resilience in the aftermath of disasters.