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The Great East Japan Earthquake: Analyses of Disaster Impacts on Health Care Clinics

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 August 2017

Sae Ochi*
Soma Central Hospital, Department of Internal Medicine, Soma, Japan
Shigeaki Kato
Iwaki Meisei Daigaku, Center for Regional Cooperation, Iwaki, Fukushima, Japan
Ken-ichi Kobayashi
National Institute of Public Health, Environmental Health, Wako, Saitama, Japan
Yasuhiro Kanatani
National Institute of Public Health, Department of Health Crisis Management Wako, Saitama, Japan
Correspondence and reprint requests to Sae Ochi, Soma Central Hospital, Department of Internal Medicine, Soma, 9760016, Japan (e-mail:



Local health facilities play a critical role in mitigating the deterioration of health after catastrophic disasters. However, limited information is available on clinic damage. Therefore, the National Institute of Public Health conducted surveillance on clinic damage after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake (GEJE) to identify risk factors.


A cross-sectional study using a paper-based questionnaire was conducted that targeted 728 clinics located in coastal areas in the 3 prefectures most affected by the GEJE.


The risk of building damage was inversely correlated with distance from the coast, whereas the risk of ceasing operations was significantly correlated with building damage and some specialties of clinics, namely, internal medicine and pediatrics.


In mountainous countries like Japan, clinics often need to be built in coastal areas, where the majority of residents live. This surveillance revealed that clinics built in readily accessible locations and that provide care with high needs are more likely to get damaged by tsunamis. As clinics are often the frontline health facilities in disaster settings, local disaster plans need to include plans to reinforce disaster preparedness among clinics. For effective planning and resource allocation, nationwide hazard vulnerability analysis using a global standard will be helpful. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2018; 12: 291–295)

Brief Report
Copyright © Society for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, Inc. 2017 

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