Skip to main content Accessibility help

Personal Disaster and Emergency Support Networks of Older Adults in a Rural Community: Changes After Participation in a Preparedness Program

  • Sato Ashida (a1) (a2), Erin L. Robinson (a3), Jane Gay (a4), Lauren E. Slagel (a1) and Marizen R. Ramirez (a5)...



Personal disaster and emergency support networks of rural older adults are described before and after participation in a disaster preparedness intervention, PrepWise.


At baseline, a total of 194 disaster support network members were identified by 27 older adults in a rural Midwest community. After the intervention, these participants identified 232 support network members. Multilevel logistic regression models were constructed to identify characteristics of the network members and social interactions associated with support providers at baseline as well as newly added support sources after the PrepWise intervention.


Member and interaction characteristics associated with being identified as emergency support sources at baseline were as follows: family, lived in close proximity, weekly or more frequent contact, and being someone whom participants shared concerns with, trusted, and exchanged emotional support with. After receiving PrepWise, participants on average identified 3 new sources of emergency support within their networks. Support sources added at follow-up tended to be nonfamily members and those participants trusted.


Enhancements in personal emergency support networks occurred after the intervention. Understanding characteristics of the network members and social interactions may assist in identifying additional emergency support sources. Larger studies investigating the impacts of enhanced support networks on disaster-related behaviors and outcomes will be beneficial. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2017;11:110–119)

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Personal Disaster and Emergency Support Networks of Older Adults in a Rural Community: Changes After Participation in a Preparedness Program
      Available formats

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Personal Disaster and Emergency Support Networks of Older Adults in a Rural Community: Changes After Participation in a Preparedness Program
      Available formats

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Personal Disaster and Emergency Support Networks of Older Adults in a Rural Community: Changes After Participation in a Preparedness Program
      Available formats


Corresponding author

Correspondence and reprint requests to Sato Ashida, PhD, 145 North Riverside Drive, N411 CPHB, Iowa City, IA 52242 (e-mail:


Hide All
1. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Disaster Declaration by Year. 2014. Accessed September 2015.
2. Wallemacq, P, McLean, L. Disaster Data: A Balanced Perspective. Brussels, Belgium: Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters; 2013.
3. World Health Organization. Older persons in emergencies: An active ageing perspective. Published 2008. Accessed September 2015.
4. Li, R. Advancing Behavioral and Social Research on the Elderly in Disasters. Washington, DC: National Academies, National Institutes of Health; 2009.
5. Cloyd, E, Dyer, CB. Catastrophic events and older adults. Crit Care Nurs Clin North Am. 2010;22(4):501-513.
6. Pekovic, V, Seff, L, Rothman, MB. Planning for and responding to special needs of elders in natural disasters. Generations. 2007;31(4):37-41.
7. Aldrich, N, Benson, WF. Disaster preparedness and the chronic disease needs of vulnerable older adults. Prev Chronic Dis. 2008;5(1):A27.
8. Gibson, MJ, Hayunga, M. We can do better: lessons learned for protecting older persons in disasters. Published 2006. Accessed September 2015.
9. He, W, Larsen, LJ. Older Americans with a Disability: 2008-2012. American Community Survey Reports. ACS-29. Published December 2014. Accessed December 15, 2016.
10. Durant, TJ. The utility of vulnerability and social capital theories in studying the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the elderly. J Family Issues. 2011;32(10):1285-1302. doi: 10.1177/0192513X11412491.
11. Mokdad, AH, Mensah, GA, Posner, SF, et al. When chronic conditions become acute: prevention and control of chronic diseases and adverse health outcomes during natural disasters. Prev Chronic Dis. 2005;2(suppl 1):A04.
12. Plough, A, Fielding, JE, Chandra, A, et al. Building community disaster resilience: perspectives from a large urban county department of public health. Am J Public Health. 2013;103(7):1190-1197.
13. Administration on Aging. Emergency Readiness for Older Adults and Caregivers. Washington, DC: US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Aging; 2006.
14. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Disaster planning tips for older adults and their families. Published 2012. Accessed September 2015.
15. Federal Emergency Management Agency. Personal Preparedness in America: Findings from the 2009 Citizen Corps National Survey. Published 2009. Accessed September 2015.
16. American Red Cross. Disaster Preparedness for Seniors by Seniors. Published 2009. Accessed September 2015.
17. The Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence. It Could Happen To Me: Family Conversations about Disaster Planning. Published 2013. Accessed September 2015.
18. Federal Emergency Management Agency. Are You Ready? An In-depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness. Published 2004. Accessed September 2015.
19. Grossman, DC, Kim, A, Macdonald, SC, et al. Urban-rural differences in prehospital care of major trauma. J Trauma . 1997;42(4):723-729.
20. Al-Rousan, TM, Rubenstein, LM, Wallace, RB. Preparedness for natural disasters among older US adults: A nationwide survey. Am J Public Health. 2014;104(3):506-511.
21. Fernandez, LS, Byard, D, Lin, C-C, et al. Frail elderly as disaster victims: emergency management strategies. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2002;17(02):67-74.
22. Chandra, A, Acosta, J, Meredith, LS, et al. Understanding Community Resilience in the Context of National Health Security. Arlington: RAND Corp; 2010.
23. Norris, FH, Stevens, SP, Pfefferbaum, B, et al. Community resilience as a metaphor, theory, set of capacities, and strategy for disaster readiness. Am J Community Psychol. 2008;41(1-2):127-150.
24. Masten, AS, Obradovic, J. Disaster preparation and recovery: lessons from research on resilience in human development. Ecol Soc. 2008;13(1):9.
25. Hamann, C, Mello, E, Wu, H, et al. Disaster preparedness in rural families of children with special health care needs. Disaster Med Public Health Prep. 2016;10(2):225-232.
26. Baernholdt, M, Yan, G, Hinton, I, et al. Quality of life in rural and urban adults 65 years and older: findings from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. J Rural Health. 2012;28(4):339-347.
27. US Department of Health and Human Services. Rural Communities and Emergency Preparedness. Published April 2002. Accessed September 2015.
28. Ashida, S, Robinson, EL, Gay, J, et al. Motivating rural older residents to prepare for disasters: moving beyond personal benefits. Ageing Soc. 2016;36(10):2117-2140.
29. Berkman, LF. Social epidemiology: social determinants of health in the United States: are we losing ground? Annu Rev Public Health. 2009;30(1):27-41.
30. Pillemer, K, Glasgow, N. Social Integration and Aging: Background and Trends. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press; 2000.
31. Michael, YL, Berkman, LF, Colditz, GA, et al. Living arrangements, social integration, and change in functional health status. Am J Epidemiol. 2001;153(2):123-131.
32. Oregon Office on Disability & Health, Oregon Institute of Disability & Development, Center on Community Accessibility, Oregon Health & Science University. Ready Now! Emergency Preparedness Tool Kit for People with Disabilities. Published 2009. Accessed November 2016.
33. Mello, E, Ramirez, M, Wu, H, et al. PrepKids: Training on Disaster Preparedness for Families of Children With Special Health Care Needs. New Orleans, LA: Society for the Advancement of Violence and Injury Research; 2015.
34. Snijders, T, Spreen, M, Zwaagstra, R. The use of multilevel modeling for analysing personal networks: networks of cocaine users in an urban area. J Quant Anthropol. 1995;5:85-105.
35. HLM 7: Hierarchical Linear and Nonlinear Modeling for Windows [computer program]. Version 7.0. Lincolrnwood, IL: Scientific Software International, Inc; 2011.
36. Ozbay, F, Johnson, DC, Dimoulas, E, et al. Social support and resilience to stress: from neurobiology to clinical practice. Psychiatry (Edgmont). 2007;4(5):35-40.
37. Wrzus, C, Hänel, M, Wagner, J, et al. Social network changes and life events across the life span: a meta-analysis. Psychol Bull. 2013;139(1):53-80.
38. Bengtson, VL. Beyond the nuclear family: the increasing importance of multigenerational relationships in American society. J Marriage Fam. 2001;63(1):1-16.
39. Wellman, B, Wortley, S. Different strokes from different folks: community ties and social support. Am J Sociol. 1990;96(3):558-588.
40. Seeman, TE, Berkman, LF. Structural characteristics of social networks and their relationship with social support in the elderly: who provides support. Soc Sci Med. 1988;26(7):737-749.
41. Heaney, CA, Israel, BA. Social networks and social support. In: Glanz DK, Rimer BK, Viswanath K, eds. Health Behavior and Health Education: Theory, Research, and Practice. 4th ed. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass; 2008:189-210.
42. Carstensen, LL, Isaacowitz, DM, Charles, ST. Taking time seriously: a theory of socioemotional selectivity. Am Psychol . 1999;54(3):165-181.
43. Federal Emergency Management Agency. A Whole Community Approach to Emergency Management: Principles, Themes, and Pathways for Action. Published 2011. Accessed September 2015.
44. Umberson, D, Montez, JK. Social relationships and health: a flashpoint for health policy. J Health Soc Behav. 2010;51(1 suppl):S54-S66.
45. Cohen, S. Social relationships and health. Am Psychol. 2004;59(8):676-684.
46. Berkman, LF, Glass, T, Brissette, I, et al. From social integration to health: Durkheim in the new millennium. Soc Sci Med. 2000;51(6):843-857.



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed