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Kurt Bayer

Kurt Bayer is an APNZ reporter based in Christchurch.

Cantabrians still struggling to cope with quake effects - research

A damaged church after the 6.3 earthquake in Christchurch. Photo / File
A damaged church after the 6.3 earthquake in Christchurch. Photo / File

Cantabrians are still struggling to cope with the effects of the devastating earthquakes, with new research showing two-thirds are still grieving for what has been lost in Christchurch.

The quake-weary population is feeling tired and, more than three years on from the deadly February 22, 2011 disaster, almost half are still not regularly sleeping well.

The results come as part of the All Right? project, commissioned to undertake both qualitative and quantitative research into Cantabrians' mental health and wellbeing.

It involved a telephone survey of a representative sample of 800 residents in February and March this year.

The findings have been compared with research the project undertook in 2012.

Overall, All Right? manager Sue Turner says the results make sobering reading.

"While there is positive data, it's clear large numbers of Cantabrians are still finding life difficult due to the earthquakes and related stressors," she said.

"Many are still struggling to come to terms with all that has happened, most of us are still grieving for what we've lost and fatigue is really starting to set in."

Key findings include:

• More than two thirds (67 per cent) reported that they are still grieving for what's been lost in Christchurch.

• 65 per cent of Christchurch city residents reported feeling tired in 2014 -- a 10 per cent increase on 2012.

• Less than one half (48 per cent) of respondents reported regularly sleeping well.

• Almost half (44 per cent) of those surveyed say they're still struggling to come to terms with all that has happened as a result of the earthquakes.

• More respondents agreed that it felt like their life has been normal over the last 12 months (66 per cent in 2014, 60 per cent in 2012).

Ms Turner said many of the findings were to be expected.

"International research shows that recovering from a disaster emotionally can take between five and 10 years," she said.

"We also know that Cantabrians have had it extra hard with the large number of earthquakes and the lengthy recovery. It is no wonder the fatigue factor is so high."

The research also found significant differences between the wellbeing of Christchurch residents who have had their insurance claims settled and those who haven't.

This data won't surprise Cantabrians, Ms Turner said.

"Dealing with insurance claims and property repairs can be stressful so it's no wonder those who've settled their claims generally feel better than those who haven't. Delays in settling claims are clearly having an impact on Cantabrians' wellbeing.

"It's also important to note that having your claim settled is not a panacea for good wellbeing. Around a third of those with settled claims still feel stressed, frustrated and feel their lives full of uncertainty."

- APNZ

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