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Multi-disciplinary Care for the Elderly in Disasters: An Integrative Review

  • Heather L. Johnson (a1), Catherine G. Ling (a1) and Elexis C. McBee (a2)



Older adults are disproportionately affected by disaster. Frail elders, individuals with chronic diseases, conditions, or disabilities, and those who live in long-term care facilities are especially vulnerable.


The purpose of this integrative review of the literature was to describe the system-wide knowledge and skills that multi-disciplinary health care providers need to provide appropriate care for the elderly during domestic-humanitarian and disaster-relief efforts.

Data sources

A systematic search protocol was developed in conjunction with a research librarian. Searches of PubMed, CINAHL, and PsycINFO were conducted using terms such as Disaster, Geological Processes, Aged, Disaster Planning, and Vulnerable Populations. Forty-six articles met criteria for inclusion in the review.


Policies and guidance regarding evacuating versus sheltering in place are lacking. Tenets of elderly-focused disaster planning/preparation and clarification of legal and ethical standards of care and liability issues are needed. Functional capacity, capabilities, or impairments, rather than age, should be considered in disaster preparation. Older adults should be included in disaster planning as population-specific experts.

Implications for Practice

A multifaceted approach to population-specific disaster planning and curriculum development should include consideration of the biophysical and psychosocial aspects of care, ethical and legal issues, logistics, and resources.

Johnson HL , Ling CG , McBee EC . Multi-disciplinary Care for the Elderly in Disasters: An Integrative Review. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2015;30(1):1-8 .


Corresponding author

Correspondence: Heather L. Johnson, DNP, FNP-BC, FAANP The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences Daniel K. Inouye Graduate School of Nursing 4301 Jones Bridge Rd Bethesda, Maryland 20814 USA E-mail


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