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Postdisaster Health Communication and Information Sources: The Iowa Flood Scenario

  • Matthew W. Murphy, Shahed Iqbal, Carlos A. Sanchez and M. Patricia Quinlisk


Background: During June 2008, heavy precipitation and 500-year flood events resulted in the displacement of thousands of families throughout eastern Iowa. The objectives of this study were to assess the effectiveness and preferred sources of health messages communicated to the public following the disaster.

Methods: Three hundred twenty-seven households were surveyed in 4 counties hit hardest by the flooding. A 48-item questionnaire containing items on demographics, housing, health information sources, and 8 specific health issues was administered.

Results: Almost all of the participants (99.0%) received information on at least 1 of the health topics covered by the survey. Most participants received information regarding vaccination (84.1%), mold (79.5%), safe use of well water (62.7%), respirator use (58.7%), or stress (53.8%). Television was the primary (54.7%) and preferred (60.2%) source of health information for most people, followed by the Internet (11.0% and 30.3% as source and preference, respectively).

Conclusions: Public health messages were received by a wide audience in the flood-affected communities. Along with more traditional health communication channels such as television, radio, or newspapers, continued emphasis on the development of health information Web sites and other technological alternatives may result in useful and effective health communication in similar situations.

(Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2010;4:129-134)


Corresponding author

Correspondence: Address correspondence and reprint requests to Matthew W. Murphy, PhD, MS, Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer, CDC/NCEH/DEHHE/HSB, 4770 Buford Hwy NE, MS F-57, Chamblee, GA 30341 (e-mail:


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Postdisaster Health Communication and Information Sources: The Iowa Flood Scenario

  • Matthew W. Murphy, Shahed Iqbal, Carlos A. Sanchez and M. Patricia Quinlisk


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