There is still a lot of stress among Groningen residents due to earthquakes and damage

There is still a lot of stress among Groningen residents due to earthquakes and damage
There is still a lot of stress among Groningen residents due to earthquakes and damage
A resident in the Groningen village of Zijldijk checks the damage after an earthquake in 2020

NOS Newstoday, 2:37 PM

The gas extraction problem still causes Groningen residents a lot of stress, according to a study by the University of Groningen (RUG). People who have had damage to their home more often have increasingly poorer health. In addition, interviews with elderly people show that changes to their living environment and social network have a strong impact on them.

The results of the research came out on a day full of commotion surrounding a decision in the Senate to postpone a decision on permanently closing the gas tap.

The impact on the population of earthquake damage has been investigated since 2016. Scientists from the RUG use questionnaires to measure how people feel about their safety, how they assess risks, how much trust they have in authorities and how healthy they are.

The results show that all these aspects are negatively affected. Over the years, according to all respondents, their health has deteriorated. This concerns their mental health and stress-related health.

More often powerless

The deterioration is strongest among participants who experienced earthquake damage multiple times. This group is worse off in many areas than those who have not suffered damage or who have had to deal with it once. “They more often feel powerless, less hopeful, less safe and estimate the risk of getting into trouble for financial or other reasons to be higher,” the researchers said.

After strengthening their home, there is often some recovery of health and well-being among the residents. The stress-related complaints then decrease somewhat, according to the researchers. “They become more hopeful, their feelings of anger and powerlessness decrease and their sense of security increases.”

The impact of the problems surrounding gas extraction on the elderly is comparable to that on the rest of Groningen residents. Older people are even more resilient in terms of mental health, the researchers found. However, older people have more difficulty with the practical consequences of earthquake damage: having to go to authorities, making digital applications or packing moving boxes. They also have difficulty with the disappearance of familiar village views, getting used to a temporary home and the crumbling of their social network due to moves.

The research is part of Gronings Perspectief. For this fourth phase of the long-term project, two studies were carried out in 2023: a questionnaire survey with 8,000 panel members who together form a representative representation of Groningen residents aged 18 and older, and twenty in-depth interviews with residents aged 65 and older.

A study specifically aimed at minors showed last week that the earthquake problem in Groningen and North Drenthe can also significantly disrupt the lives of children and young people.

The article is in Dutch

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