BACKGROUND: Mothers living with small children in Fukushima prefecture may experience radiation anxiety and related symptoms after the Fukushima Dai'ich Nuclear Power Plant Accident. A behavioral activation (BA) program was developed to improve their psychosomatic symptoms. The purpose of this randomized controlled trial was to examine the effectiveness of a BA program for improving psychological distress and physical symptoms among mothers with preschool children in Fukushima-prefecture 3 years after the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident.
METHODS: Participants were recruited from mothers living with a preschool child(ren) in Fukushima city and surrounding areas though a newspaper advertisement, posters, and flyers. Participants allocated to the intervention group received a newly developed group-based BA program, which consisted of two 90- min lessons with a 1-week interval. Psychological distress and physical symptoms as a primary outcome, and radiation anxiety and positive well-being (liveliness and life satisfaction) as a secondary outcome, were measured at baseline, 1- and 3-month follow-ups.
RESULTS: Participants were randomly allocated to either an intervention or a control group (18 and 19, respectively). The BA program showed a marginally significant intervention effect on psychological distress (p = 0.051) and physical symptoms (p = 0.07) at 1-month follow-up, while the effect became smaller at 3-month follow-up. The effect sizes at 1-month were medium to large (-0.72 and -0.56, respectively). There was a significant intervention effect on increasing liveliness at 3-month follow-up (p = 0.02); and there were marginally significant effects on life satisfaction at 1- and 3-month follow-ups (both p = 0.09).
CONCLUSIONS: This BA program may be effective for improving psychological distress, physical symptoms, and well-being, at least for a short duration, among mothers with preschool children after the nuclear power plant accident in Fukushima, while a further large-scale study is needed.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: The UMIN Clinical Trials Registry (UMIN-CTR; ID = UMIN000014081 ). Registered 27 May 2014.
- Behavior Therapy/methods
- Child, Preschool
- Fukushima Nuclear Accident
- Mental Health
- Personal Satisfaction
- Psychophysiologic Disorders/etiology
- Stress, Psychological/complications