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Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and future pandemics have become a reality, and planners must understand how attitudes during COVID-19 may influence future preparedness activities. This study explores how personal experiences of Americans during the pandemic, attitudes about institutions, and views of social change could either pose challenges or help with planning for the next pandemic.
A longitudinal survey capturing health attitudes and COVD-19-related experiences was fielded 3 times over the course of the pandemic among historically underserved individuals in US society (racial/ethnic minority and low-income populations).
COVID-19-related experiences increased over time. Attitudes about federal and state government and businesses’ ability to respond to the pandemic varied by COVID-19-related experience and having any COVID-19-related experience was associated with a lower likelihood of reporting positive attitudes about institutions. Respondents generally perceived that COVID-19 presented an opportunity for positive social change, and those with COVID-19-related experiences had the greatest likelihood of selecting “reduce income inequality” as their top prioritized change. Those with COVID-19-related experiences were less likely to endorse other policy priorities such as protecting freedoms.
Anticipating potential backlash or other sentiments could improve pandemic responsiveness. Strengthening public institutions is crucial to ensuring their effectiveness during a pandemic. Pandemic planning could exploit opportunities to take other social policy actions where views seem to converge.
To summarize ways that networks of community-based organizations (CBO), in partnership with public health departments, contribute to community recovery from disaster.
The study was conducted using an online survey administered one and 2 years after Hurricane Sandy to the partnership networks of 369 CBO and the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The survey assessed the structure and durability of networks, how they were influenced by storm damage, and whether more connected networks were associated with better recovery outcomes.
During response and recovery, CBOs provide an array of critical public health services often outside their usual scope. New CBO partnerships were formed to support recovery, particularly in severely impacted areas. CBOs that were more connected to other CBOs and were part of a long-term recovery committee reported greater impacts on the community; however, a partnership with the local health department was not associated with recovery impacts.
CBO partners are flexible in their scope of services, and CBO partnerships often emerge in areas with the greatest storm damage, and subsequently the greatest community needs. National policies will advance if they account for the dynamic and emergent nature of these partnerships and their contributions, and clarify the role of government partners. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2018;12:635–643)
Local health departments (LHDs) have little guidance for operationalizing community resilience (CR). We explored how community coalitions responded to 4 CR levers (education, engagement, partnerships, and community self-sufficiency) during the first planning year of the Los Angeles County Community Disaster Resilience (LACCDR) Project.
Sixteen communities were selected and randomly assigned to the experimental CR group or the control preparedness group. Eight CR coalitions met monthly to plan CR-building activities or to receive CR training from a public health nurse. Trained observers documented the coalitions’ understanding and application of CR at each meeting. Qualitative content analysis was used to analyze structured observation reports around the 4 levers.
Analysis of 41 reports suggested that coalitions underwent a process of learning about and applying CR concepts in the planning year. Groups resonated with ideas of education, community self-sufficiency, and engagement, but increasing partnerships was challenging.
LHDs can support coalitions by anticipating the time necessary to understand CR and by facilitating engagement. Understanding the issues that emerge in the early phases of planning and implementing CR-building activities is critical. LHDs can use the experience of the LACCDR Project’s planning year as a guide to navigate challenges and issues that emerge as they operationalize the CR model. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2016;10:812–821)
The purpose of this article was to describe how the Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) and other health care coalitions conceptualize and measure progress or success and to identify strategies to improve coalition success and address known barriers to success.
We conducted a structured literature review and interviews with key leaders from 22 HPPs and other coalitions. Interview transcripts were analyzed by using constant comparative analysis.
Five dimensions of coalition success were identified: strong member participation, diversity of members, positive changes in members’ capacity to respond to or recover from disaster, sharing of resources among members, and being perceived as a trendsetter. Common barriers to success were also identified (eg, a lack of funding and staff). To address these barriers, coalitions suggested a range of mitigation strategies (eg, establishing formal memoranda of agreement). Both dimensions of and barriers to coalition success varied by coalition type.
Currently, the term health care coalition is a one-size-fits-all term. In reality, this umbrella term describes a variety of different configurations, member bodies, and capabilities. The analysis offered a typology to categorize health care coalitions by primary function during a disaster response. Developing a common typology that could be used to specify capabilities or functions of coalitions may be helpful to advancing their development. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2015;9:690–697)
Despite the growing awareness that youth are not just passive victims of disaster but can contribute to a community’s disaster resilience, there have been limited efforts to formally engage youth in strengthening community resilience. The purpose of this brief report was to describe the development of a Youth Resilience Corps, or YRC (ie, a set of tools to engage young people in youth-led community resilience activities) and the findings from a small-scale pilot test.
The YRC was developed with input from a range of government and nongovernmental stakeholders. We conducted a pilot test with youth in Washington, DC, during summer 2014. Semi-structured focus groups with staff and youth surveys were used to obtain feedback on the YRC tools and to assess what participants learned.
Focus groups and youth surveys suggested that the youth understood resilience concepts, and that most youth enjoyed and learned from the components.
The YRC represent an important first step toward engaging youth in building disaster resilience, rather than just focusing on this group as a vulnerable population in need of special attention. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2016;10:47–50)
We aimed to develop and test a community resilience tabletop exercise to assess progress in community resilience and to provide an opportunity for quality improvement and capacity building.
A tabletop exercise was developed for the Los Angeles County Community Disaster Resilience (LACCDR) project by using an extended heat wave scenario with health and infrastructure consequences. The tabletop was administered to preparedness only (control) and resilience (intervention) coalitions during the summer of 2014. Each exercise lasted approximately 2 hours. The coalitions and LACCDR study team members independently rated each exercise to assess 4 resilience levers (partnership, engagement, self-sufficiency, and education). Resilience coalitions received more detailed feedback in the form of recommendations for improvement.
The resilience coalitions performed the same or better than the preparedness coalitions on the partnership and self-sufficiency levers. Most coalitions did not have enough (both quantity and type) of the partner organizations needed for an escalating heat wave or changing conditions or enough engagement of organizations representing at-risk populations. Coalitions also lacked educational materials to cover topics as far ranging as heat to power outages to psychological impacts of disaster.
A tabletop exercise can be used to stress and test resilience-based capacities, with particular attention to a community’s ability to leverage a range of partnerships and other assets to confront a slowly evolving but multifactorial emergency. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2015;9:484–488)
We assessed the feasibility and impact on knowledge, attitudes, and reported practices of psychological first-aid (PFA) training in a sample of Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) members. Data have been limited on the uptake of PFA training in surge responders (eg, MRC) who are critical to community response.
Our mixed-methods approach involved self-administered pre- and post-training surveys and within-training focus group discussions of 76 MRC members attending a PFA training and train-the-trainer workshop. Listen, protect, connect (a PFA model for lay persons) focuses on listening and understanding both verbal and nonverbal cues; protecting the individual by determining realistic ways to help while providing reassurance; and connecting the individual with resources in the community.
From pre- to post-training, perceived confidence and capability in using PFA after an emergency or disaster increased from 71% to 90% (P < .01), but no significant increase was found in PFA-related knowledge. Qualitative analyses suggest that knowledge and intentions to use PFA increased with training. Brief training was feasible, and while results were modest, the PFA training resulted in greater reported confidence and perceived capability in addressing psychological distress of persons affected by public health threats.
PFA training is a promising approach to improve surge responder confidence and competency in addressing postdisaster needs. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2014;0:1-6)
An important shift in terminology has occurred in emergency preparedness, and the concept of community resilience has become ubiquitous. Although enhancing community resilience is broader than preparedness, and emphasizes a distinct set of activities and participants, the terms are often used interchangeably. The implications of this shift have not been fully explored. This commentary describes the potential promise and pitfalls of the concept of community resilience and recommends strategies to overcome its limitations. We believe that resilience has the power to dramatically change this field in immense, positive ways, but some important challenges such as confusion about definitions and lack of accountability must first be overcome. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2013;7:603-606)
Community resilience (CR) is emerging as a major public policy priority within disaster management and is one of two key pillars of the December 2009 US National Health Security Strategy. However, there is no clear agreement on what key elements constitute CR. We examined exemplary practices from international disaster management to validate the elements of CR, as suggested by Homeland Security Presidential Directive 21 (HSPD-21), to potentially identify new elements and to identify practices that could be emulated or adapted to help build CR.
We extracted detailed information relevant to CR from unpublished case studies we had developed previously, describing exemplary practices from international natural disasters occurring between 1985 and 2005. We then mapped specific practices against the five elements of CR suggested by HSPD-21.
We identified 49 relevant exemplary practices from 11 natural disasters in 10 countries (earthquakes in Mexico, India, and Iran; volcanic eruption in Philippines; hurricanes in Honduras and Cuba; floods in Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Mozambique; tsunami in Indian Ocean countries; and typhoon in Vietnam). Of these, 35 mapped well against the five elements of CR: community education, community empowerment, practice, social networks, and familiarity with local services; 15 additional practices were related to physical security and economic security. The five HSPD-21 CR elements and two additional ones we identified were closely related to one another; social networks were especially important to CR.
While each disaster is unique, the elements of CR appear to be broadly applicable across countries and disaster settings. Our descriptive study provides retrospective empirical evidence that helps validate, and adds to, the elements of CR suggested by HSPD-21. It also generates hypotheses about factors contributing to CR that can be tested in future analytic or experimental research. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2013;7:292-301)
Although recent emergencies or disasters have underscored the vital role of nongovernmental (NGO) resources, they remain not well understood or leveraged. We intended to develop an assets framework that identifies relevant NGO resources for disaster preparedness and response that can be used to assess their availability at state and local levels.
We conducted a search of peer-reviewed publications to identify existing asset frameworks, and reviewed policy documents and gray literature to identify roles of NGOs in emergency preparedness, response, and recovery. A standardized data abstraction form was used to organize the results by NGO sector.
We organized NGO assets into 5 categories: competencies, money, infrastructure or equipment, services, relationships, and data for each of the 11 sectors designated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the 2011 preparedness capabilities.
Our findings showed that the capacity of each sector to capture data on each asset type needs strengthening so that data can be merged for just-in-time analysis to indicate where additional relief is needed. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2013;0:1–6)
Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are important to a community during times of disaster and routine operations. However, their effectiveness is reduced without an operational framework that integrates response and recovery efforts. Without integration, coordination among NGOs is challenging and use of government resources is inefficient. We developed an operational model to specify NGO roles and responsibilities before, during, and after a disaster.
We conducted an analysis of peer-reviewed literature, relevant policy, and federal guidance to characterize the capabilities of NGOs, contextual factors that determine their involvement in disaster operations, and key services they provide during disaster response and recovery. We also identified research questions that should be prioritized to improve coordination and communication between NGOs and government.
Our review showed that federal policy stresses the importance of partnerships between NGOs and government agencies and among other NGOs. Such partnerships can build deep local networks and broad systems that reach from local communities to the federal government. Understanding what capacities NGOs need and what factors influence their ability to perform during a disaster informs an operational model that could optimize NGO performance.
Although the operational model needs to be applied and tested in community planning and disaster response, it holds promise as a unifying framework across new national preparedness and recovery policy, and provides structure to community planning, resource allocation, and metrics on which to evaluate NGO disaster involvement. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2012;0:1–8).
Objective: The paucity of evidence and wide variation among communities creates challenges for developing congressionally mandated national performance standards for public health preparedness. Using countermeasure dispensing as an example, we present an approach for developing standards that balances national uniformity and local flexibility, consistent with the quality of evidence available.
Methods: We used multiple methods, including a survey of community practices, mathematical modeling, and expert panel discussion.
Results: The article presents recommended dispensing standards, along with a general framework that can be used to analyze tradeoffs involved in developing other preparedness standards.
Conclusions: Standards can be developed using existing evidence, but would be helped immensely by a stronger evidence base.
(Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2010;4:285-290)
US government programs and communications regarding citizen preparedness for disasters rest on several untested, and therefore unverified, assumptions. We explore the assumptions related to citizen preparedness promotion and argue that in spite of extensive messaging about the importance of citizen preparedness and countless household surveys purporting to track the preparedness activities of individuals and households, the role individual Americans are being asked to play is largely based on conventional wisdom. Recommendations for conceptualizing and measuring citizen preparedness are discussed.
(Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2012;6:170–173)
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