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The Road to Resilience: Insights on Training Community Coalitions in the Los Angeles County Community Disaster Resilience Project

  • Biblia S. Cha (a1), Rachel I. Lawrence (a1), Jesse C. Bliss (a1) (a2), Kenneth B. Wells (a3), Anita Chandra (a4) and David P. Eisenman (a5)...



Local health departments (LHDs) have little guidance for operationalizing community resilience (CR). We explored how community coalitions responded to 4 CR levers (education, engagement, partnerships, and community self-sufficiency) during the first planning year of the Los Angeles County Community Disaster Resilience (LACCDR) Project.


Sixteen communities were selected and randomly assigned to the experimental CR group or the control preparedness group. Eight CR coalitions met monthly to plan CR-building activities or to receive CR training from a public health nurse. Trained observers documented the coalitions’ understanding and application of CR at each meeting. Qualitative content analysis was used to analyze structured observation reports around the 4 levers.


Analysis of 41 reports suggested that coalitions underwent a process of learning about and applying CR concepts in the planning year. Groups resonated with ideas of education, community self-sufficiency, and engagement, but increasing partnerships was challenging.


LHDs can support coalitions by anticipating the time necessary to understand CR and by facilitating engagement. Understanding the issues that emerge in the early phases of planning and implementing CR-building activities is critical. LHDs can use the experience of the LACCDR Project’s planning year as a guide to navigate challenges and issues that emerge as they operationalize the CR model. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2016;10:812–821)


Corresponding author

Correspondence and reprint requests to Biblia S. Cha, MPH, Center for Community Resilience, Office of Public Health Practice, Loma Linda University School of Public Health, 10970 Parkland St, Loma Linda, CA 92350 (e-mail:


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