Optimism and Hope After Multiple Disasters: Relationships to Health-Related Quality of Life


BP oil spill, health, hurricanes katrina and rita, natural and technological disasters


Natural and technological disasters are devastating events for individuals and communities. The authors examined the role of optimism and hope in predicting health indicators in a sample of disaster survivors who were exposed to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. Participants were noncoastal residents, current coastal residents, and current coastal fishers who were also economically impacted by the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. All participants completed measures of optimism, hope, and the SF-36 Health Survey, which provides summary scores for mental and physical health. Logistic regressions indicated that optimism and hope were independently and positively associated with better mental health (OR = 1.21; 95% CI: 1.10, 1.32 and OR = 1.11; 95% CI: 1.05, 1.17 respectively). Neither optimism nor hope were significantly associated with physical health when considered alone. However, optimism interacted with prior lifetime trauma, where optimism only significantly predicted physical health for those with higher previous trauma scores. These results provide new evidence of optimism and hope as protective factors that may positively impact mental health after multiple disasters.

Original Publication Citation

Cherry, K. E., Sampson, L., Galea, S., Marks, L. D., Nezat, P. F., Baudoin, K. H., & *Lyon, B. A. (2017). Optimism and hope after multiple disasters: Relationships to health-related quality of life. Journal of Trauma and Loss, 22, 61-76.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL



Journal of Loss and Trauma




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor