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Responding to Repeated Disasters: Time to Recovery in Public Health Workers

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 June 2022

Holly B. Herberman Mash*
Affiliation:
Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, Department of Psychiatry, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland, USA Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
Carol S. Fullerton
Affiliation:
Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, Department of Psychiatry, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
Joshua C. Morganstein
Affiliation:
Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, Department of Psychiatry, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
Alexander G. Liu
Affiliation:
Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, Department of Psychiatry, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland, USA Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
Mary C. Vance
Affiliation:
Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, Department of Psychiatry, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
Leming Wang
Affiliation:
Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, Department of Psychiatry, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
Britany Mullins-Hussain
Affiliation:
Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, Department of Psychiatry, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland, USA Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
Robert J. Ursano
Affiliation:
Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, Department of Psychiatry, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
*
Corresponding author: Holly B. Herberman Mash, Email: holly.herberman-mash.ctr@usuhs.edu

Abstract

Objective:

In times of repeated disaster events, including natural disasters and pandemics, public health workers must recover rapidly to respond to subsequent events. Understanding predictors of time to recovery and developing predictive models of time to recovery can aid planning and management.

Methods:

We examined 681 public health workers (21-72 y, M(standard deviation [SD]) = 48.25(10.15); 79% female) 1 mo before (T1) and 9 mo after (T2) the 2005 hurricane season. Demographics, trauma history, social support, time to recover from previous hurricane season, and predisaster work productivity were assessed at T1. T2 assessed previous disaster work, initial emotional response, and personal hurricane injury/damage. The primary outcome was time to recover from the most recent hurricane event.

Results:

Multivariate analyses found that less support (T1; odds ratio [OR] = .74[95% confidence interval [CI] = .60-.92]), longer previous recovery time (T1; OR = 5.22[95%CI = 3.01-9.08]), lower predisaster work productivity (T1; OR = 1.98[95%CI = 1.08-3.61]), disaster-related personal injury/damage (T2; OR = 3.08[95%CI = 1.70-5.58]), and initial emotional response (T2; OR = 1.71[95%CI = 1.34-2.19]) were associated with longer recovery time (T2).

Conclusions:

Recovery time was adversely affected in disaster responders with a history of longer recovery time, personal injury/damage, lower work productivity following prior hurricanes, and initial emotional response, whereas responders with social support had shorter recovery time. Predictors of recovery time should be a focus for disaster preparedness planners.

Type
Original Research
Copyright
© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Society for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, Inc

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