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Separated After a Disaster: Trust and Privacy Issues in Sharing Children’s Personal Information

  • Rachel L. Charney (a1), Terri Rebmann (a2), Flavio Esposito (a3), Kristin Schmid (a4) and Sarita Chung (a5)...



After disasters, unaccompanied children may present to an emergency department requiring reunification. An effective reunification system depends on the willingness of guardians to utilize it.


Assess guardian willingness to share children’s personal information for reunification purposes after a disaster, perceived concerns and beliefs, and trust in reunification agencies.


Guardians of children presenting to 2 pediatric emergency departments were approached to participate in a survey-based study. Willingness to share their children’s personal information was scored on a scale of 1 to 19 (1 point per item). Perceived concerns about and importance of sharing information, level of trust in reunification agencies, and guardian demographics were collected. Chi-square was used to compare trust and attitudes/beliefs. Multivariate linear regression was used to determine factors associated with willingness to share information.


A total of 363 surveys were completed (response rate, 80%). Most guardians (95.6%) were willing to share at least some information (mean, 16 items; range, 1-19). Half were concerned about protection (55.4%) or abuse (52.3%) of their child’s information. Hospitals were trusted more than other reunification agencies (P < .001). Perception of reunification importance was associated with willingness to share (P < .001).


Guardians are willing to share their children’s information to facilitate reunification after disasters, but have privacy concerns.


Corresponding author

Correspondence and reprint requests to Rachel Charney,1465 S Grand Boulevard, St Louis, MO 63127 (e-mail:


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Separated After a Disaster: Trust and Privacy Issues in Sharing Children’s Personal Information

  • Rachel L. Charney (a1), Terri Rebmann (a2), Flavio Esposito (a3), Kristin Schmid (a4) and Sarita Chung (a5)...


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