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Public Expectations for Nonemergency Hospital Resources and Services During Disasters

  • Rachel L. Charney (a1), Terri Rebmann (a2), Cybill R. Esguerra (a3), Charlene W. Lai (a3) and Preeti Dalawari (a4)...



The public's expectations of hospital services during disasters may not reflect current hospital disaster plans. The objective of this study was to determine the public's expected hospital service utilization during a pandemic, earthquake, and terrorist bombing.


A survey was distributed to adult patients or family members at 3 emergency departments (EDs). Participants identified resources and services they expect to need during 3 disaster scenarios. Linear regression was used to describe factors associated with higher expected utilization scores for each scenario.


Of the 961 people who participated in the study, 66.9% were women, 47.5% were white, and 44.6% were black. Determinants of higher pandemic resource utilization included persons who were younger (P < .01); non-white (P < .001); had higher ED visits (P < .01), hospitalization (P = .001), or fewer primary care provider visits (P = .001) in the past year; and did not having a reunification plan (P < .001). Determinants of higher earthquake resource utilization included persons who were non-white (P < .001); who were a patient or spouse (vs parent) participating in the study (P < .05 and P = .001); and had higher ED visits in the past year (P = .001). Determinants of higher bombing resource utilization included persons who were female (P = .001); non-white (P < .001); had higher ED (P = .001) or primary care provider (P < .01) visits in past year; and experienced the loss of home or property during a past disaster (P < .05).


Public expectations of hospitals during disasters are high, and some expectations are inappropriate. Better community disaster planning and public risk communication are needed. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2013;0:1–8)


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Rachel L. Charney, MD, 1405 S Grand Blvd, St Louis, MO 63104 (e-mail:


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Public Expectations for Nonemergency Hospital Resources and Services During Disasters

  • Rachel L. Charney (a1), Terri Rebmann (a2), Cybill R. Esguerra (a3), Charlene W. Lai (a3) and Preeti Dalawari (a4)...


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