AUA School of Public Health Publishes Findings from Cohort Study of Survivors of 1988 Spitak Earthquake

By AUA School of Public Health

YEREVAN – A paper based on a study conducted by the American University of Armenia (AUA)’s School of Public Health (SPH) on survivors of the 1988 Spitak earthquake was recently published in the International Journal for Equity in Health.

Thanks to Dr. Haroutune Armenian’s dedication and efforts, a large scale cohort study was initiated after the 1988 Spitak earthquake to assess the impact of the earthquake on population health.  The study had four phases covering a span of 23 years (1990-2012).  This unique cohort study initiated with over 32,000 earthquake survivors aimed to investigate short and long-term physical and mental health consequences of the devastating natural disaster, and to identify effective measures to overcome its adverse health effects. The multifaceted data collected during four phases of the study provided an outstanding opportunity to the dedicated core team of faculty and researchers, Drs. Haroutune Armenian, Vahe Khachadourian, Anahit Demirchyan, Varduhi Petrosyan, and Armen Goenjian, to investigate various research topics and to produce a series of publications focusing on different aspects of the health and well-being of the studied population.

In line with the objectives of the cohort study, the research team accepted the invitation of the International Journal for Equity in Health (IJEH), an internationally ranked peer-reviewed journal, to develop a paper for the thematic series entitled Multimorbidity and Equity in Health.  Multimorbidity, the presence of two or more health conditions, is a widespread yet understudied phenomenon affecting populations’ health all over the world.  Studies exploring its determinants among vulnerable populations are scarce.  The study identified short and long term determinants of incident multimorbidity among the cohort of the 1988 Armenian earthquake survivors.

As expected, multimorbidity was quite prevalent (75%) among the survivors. Perceived poor living standards during the post-earthquake decade and low affordability of healthcare services were among important independent predictors. The study identified a strong relationship between stressful life events, poor social support, and incident multimorbidity.  One of the most impressive findings of the study was the independent association between being overweight reported in 1990 and multimorbidity developed thereafter.  Most of the identified determinants of incident multimorbidity were markers of social inequities, emphasizing the threat inequities pose to the health of vulnerable population groups.

The open access article is available at


The AUA School of Public Health works actively to improve the health of the populace and health services in Armenia and the region through interdisciplinary education and development of public health professionals and others to be leaders in public health, health services research and evaluation, and health care delivery and management.

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