Following the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and the ensuing nuclear disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, hundreds of nursing-home residents and staffers living close to the plant rushed to evacuate.

But, according to the results of a joint study published Friday in the science journal PLOS ONE, the evacuations posed a far greater health risk to the evacuees than the radiation they would have endured had they decided to stay.

Co-author Masaharu Tsubokura, a University of Tokyo researcher, said the study should be used as a resource in evacuation planning, as many of the nation's nuclear power plants are waiting for the green light to restart operations.