Health effects of disasters are mostly consistent across hazard types. Those working in communities affected by disasters have an opportunity to provide surveillance and early management to patients affected by disaster through increased understanding of the epidemiology or health consequences in the days, weeks, months, and years after disasters. Disasters have been called a social determinant of health and population-level changes or social determinants that have been documented post-incident. Environmental and community disruption contribute to health effects. Consequent health effects are evidenced across body systems, affecting both physical and mental health.
To develop guidelines for primary care patient review following a disaster, based on the temporal pattern of disease epidemiology.
A systematic review of the literature was undertaken to examine the epidemiology of health consequences following disasters.
Guidelines for Family Doctors based on the literature review were developed to assist preventative care, surveillance, early identification of emerging conditions, and ongoing management of pre-existing disease.
Healthcare management in disasters focuses on acute healthcare in emergency departments and hospitals. However, healthcare is also being provided in primary healthcare settings during the first days to weeks of the catastrophe, with many health consequences ongoing in the weeks, months, and years after the event.