Risk factors for long-term mental and psychosomatic distress in Latvian Chernobyl liquidators

Jean François Viel, Elvira Curbakova, Baiba Dzerve, Maija Eglite, Tija Zvagule, Claude Vincent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Epidemiologic studies on the health effects of the Chernobyl disaster have focused largely on physical health, whereas the psychological consequences have received little attention. The authors have assessed the associations of various exposure variables with mental and psychosomatic distress in a sample of 1412 Latvian liquidators drawn from the State Latvian Chernobyl Clean-up Workers Registry. The outcome was a mixed mental-psychosomatic disorder occurring during 1986 to 1995. Comparisons among subgroups of the cohort classified according to exposure type or level were based on the proportional hazards model. Length of work (≤ 28 days) in a 10-km radius from the reactor (relative risk [RR] = 1.39, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.14-1.70), work (> 1 time) on the damaged reactor roof (RR = 1.46, 95% CI 1.02-2.09), forest work (RR = 1.41, 95% CI 1.19-1.68), and fresh fruit consumption (> 1 time/day) (RR = 1.72, 95% CI 1.12-2.65) are risk factors for mixed mental-psychosomatic disorder. Construction of the sarcophagus (RR = 1.82, 95% CI 0.89-3.72) is also associated with this outcome, although nonsignificantly. Distinguishing stress-related from radiation-induced effects in this data set was difficult and these findings should provide a basis for later hypothesis testing in other cohorts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1539-1544
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Issue numberSUPPL. 6
Publication statusPublished - 1997
EventInternational Conference on Radiation and Health - Beer Sheva, Israel
Duration: 3 Nov 19967 Nov 1996


  • Chernobyl
  • Liquidators
  • Mental disorders
  • Risk factors

Field of Science*

  • 3.2 Clinical medicine
  • 3.1 Basic medicine

Publication Type*

  • 3.3. Publications in conference proceedings indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database


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