Lori James, associate professor at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, Department of Psychology, is preparing a research study that will document the difficulties people are experiencing in the wake of Colorado’s worst wildfire.
Issues may include anxiety or depression that occurred as a result of loss of property or income, the stress of evacuations, or fears caused by news coverage of the fire. James is particularly interested in people who feel they are experiencing significant distress at this time. She is seeing 200 people to participate in the study.
“As researchers, we’ve studied communities in Texas that were affected by hurricanes and also by wildfires,” James said. “The Waldo Canyon fire provides an opportunity to gain new information about helping people increase their skills in coping with unhealthy reactions to a disaster. This might help the next community recover more quickly from a natural disaster but also might help members of our home community cope.”
Study participants will be asked to complete a survey that examines the difficulties they are experiencing, their coping abilities, and general demographic information. Some will be provided with tools available through a website that they will be encouraged to use to help them work through their difficulties immediately. Other participants will be provided website access 30 days later. James’ goal is to determine if the tools prove helpful to participants.
The study is expected to last about 60 days and all participants will complete three sets of assessments. For each assessment they take, they will be paid $25 for their time. All data will remain confidential.