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Health care workers (HCWs) are increasingly faced with the continuous threat of confronting acute disasters, extreme weather-related events, and protracted public health emergencies. One of the major factors that determines emergency-department-based HCWs’ willingness to respond during public health emergencies and disasters is self-efficacy. Despite increased public awareness of the threat of disasters and heightened possibility of future public health emergencies, the emphasis on preparing the health care workforce for such disasters is inadequate in low-and-middle-income countries (LMICs). Interventions for boosting self-efficacy and response willingness in public health emergencies and disasters have yet to be implemented or examined among emergency HCWs in LMICs. Mobile health (mHealth) technology seems to be a promising platform for such interventions, especially in a resource-constrained setting. This paper introduces an mHealth-focused project that demonstrates a model of multi-institutional and multidisciplinary collaboration for research and training to enhance disaster response willingness among emergency department workers in Pakistan.
Optimizing health care workers’ (HCWs) willingness to respond (WTR) is critical in low-and-middle-income countries (LMICs) for proper health system functioning during extreme weather events. Pakistan frequently experiences weather-related disasters, but limited evidence is available to examine HCW willingness. Our study examined the association between WTR and behavioral factors among emergency department HCWs.
A cross-sectional survey was conducted from August to September 2022 among HCWs from 2 hospitals in Karachi, Pakistan. Non-probability purposive sampling was used to recruit participants. A survey tool was informed by Witte’s Extended Parallel Process Model (EPPM). Multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed to examine the association between WTR and attitudes/beliefs as well as EPPM profiles.
Twenty-nine percent of HCWs indicated a low WTR. HCWs using public transportation had a higher WTR. Perceived knowledge and skills, self-efficacy, and perceived impact of one’s response showed positive associations with WTR if required. Perception that one’s colleagues would report to work positively predicted WTR if asked. Consistent with the EPPM, HCWs with high efficacy and perceived threat were willing to respond to weather disasters.
Our findings highlight the need of strengthening WTR by promoting self-efficacy and enhancing accurate risk perception as a response motivator, among emergency department HCWs in Pakistan.
Emergency medical (EM) response systems require extensive coordination, particularly during mass casualty incidents (MCIs). The recognition of preparedness gaps and contextual priorities to MCI response capacity in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) can be better understood through the components of EM reponse systems. This study aims to delineate essential components and provide a framework for effective emergency medical response to MCIs.
A scoping review was conducted using 4 databases. Title and abstract screening was followed by full-text review. Thematic analysis was conducted to identify themes pertaining to the essential components and integration of EM response systems.
Of 20,456 screened citations, 181 articles were included in the analysis. Seven major and 40 sub-themes emerged from the content analysis as the essential components and supportive elements of MCI medical response. The essential components of MCI response were integrated into a framework demonstrating interrelated connections between essential and supportive elements.
Definitions of essential components of EM response to MCIs vary considerably. Most literature pertaining to MCI response originates from high income countries with far fewer reports from LMICs. Integration of essential components is needed in different geopolitical and economic contexts to ensure an effective MCI emergency medical response.
Food security during public health emergencies relies on situational awareness of needs and resources. Artificial intelligence (AI) has revolutionized situational awareness during crises, allowing the allocation of resources to needs through machine learning algorithms. Limited research exists monitoring Twitter for changes in the food security-related public discourse during the COVID-19 pandemic. We aim to address that gap with AI by classifying food security topics on Twitter and showing topic frequency per day.
Tweets were scraped from Twitter from January 2020 through December 2021 using food security keywords. Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) topic modeling was performed, followed by time-series analyses on topic frequency per day.
237,107 tweets were scraped and classified into topics, including food needs and resources, emergency preparedness and response, and mental/physical health. After the WHO’s pandemic declaration, there were relative increases in topic density per day regarding food pantries, food banks, economic and food security crises, essential services, and emergency preparedness advice. Threats to food security in Tigray emerged in 2021.
AI is a powerful yet underused tool to monitor food insecurity on social media. Machine learning tools to improve emergency response should be prioritized, along with measurement of impact. Further food insecurity word patterns testing, as generated by this research, with supervised machine learning models can accelerate the uptake of these tools by policymakers and aid organizations.
Disasters of all varieties have been steadily increasing in frequency. Simultaneously, “big data” has seen explosive growth as a tool in business and private industries while opportunities for robust implementation in disaster management remain nascent. To more explicitly ascertain the current status of big data as applied to disaster recovery, we conducted an integrative literature review.
Eleven databases were searched using iteratively developed keywords to target big data in a disaster recovery context. All studies were dual-screened by title and abstract followed by dual full-text review to determine if they met inclusion criteria. Articles were included if they focused on big data in a disaster recovery setting and were published in the English-language peer-reviewed literature.
After removing duplicates, 25,417 articles were originally identified. Following dual title/abstract review and full-text review, 18 studies were included in the final analysis. Among those, 44% were United States-based and 39% focused on hurricane recovery. Qualitative themes emerged surrounding geographic information systems (GIS), social media, and mental health.
Big data is an evolving tool for recovery from disasters. More research, particularly in real-time applied disaster recovery settings, is needed to further expand the knowledge base for future applications.
Modern digital strategies, including Internet of Things, machine learning, and mobile applications, have revolutionized situational awareness during disaster management. Despite their importance, no review of digital strategies to support emergency food security efforts has been conducted. This scoping review fills that gap.
Keywords were defined within the concepts of food assistance, digital technology, and disasters. After the database searches, PRISMA guidelines were followed to perform a partnered, 2-round scoping literature review.
The search identified 3201 articles, and 26 articles met criteria and were included in the analysis. The data types used to describe the tools were text/opinion (42.3%), qualitative (23.1%), system architecture (19.2%), quantitative and qualitative (11.5 %), and quantitative (3.8%). The tools’ main functions were Resource Allocation (41.7%), Data Collection and Management (33%), Interagency Communications (15.4 %), Beneficiary Communications (11.5%), and Fundraising (7.7%). The platforms used to achieve these goals were Mobile Application (36%), Internet of Things (20%), Website (20%), and Mobile Survey (8%); 92% covered the disaster response phase.
Digital tools for planning, situational awareness, client choice, and recovery are needed to support emergency food assistance, but there is a lack of these tools and research on their effectiveness across all disaster phases.
The aim of this study was to test the appearance of negative dominance in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine-related information and activity online. We hypothesized that if negative dominance appeared, it would be a reflection of peaks in adverse events related to the vaccine, that negative content would attract more engagement on social media than other vaccine-related posts, and posts referencing adverse events related to COVID-19 vaccination would have a higher average toxicity score.
We collected data using Google Trends for search behavior, CrowdTangle for social media data, and Media Cloud for media stories, and compared them against the dates of key adverse events related to COVID-19. We used Communalytic to analyze the toxicity of social media posts by platform and topic.
While our first hypothesis was partially supported, with peaks in search behavior for image and YouTube videos driven by adverse events, we did not find negative dominance in other types of searches or patterns of attention by news media or on social media.
We did not find evidence in our data to prove the negative dominance of adverse events related to COVID-19 vaccination on social media. Future studies should corroborate these findings and, if consistent, focus on explaining why this may be the case.
Influenza vaccination remains the most effective primary prevention strategy for seasonal influenza. This research explores the percentage of emergency medical services (EMS) clinicians who received the seasonal flu vaccine in a given year, along with their reasons for vaccine acceptance and potential barriers.
A survey was distributed to all EMS clinicians in Virginia during the 2018-2019 influenza season. The primary outcome was vaccination status. Secondary outcomes were attitudes and perceptions toward influenza vaccination, along with patient care behaviors when treating an influenza patient.
Ultimately, 2796 EMS clinicians throughout Virginia completed the survey sufficiently for analysis. Participants were mean 43.5 y old, 60.7% male, and included the full range of certifications. Overall, 79.4% of surveyed EMS clinicians received a seasonal flu vaccine, 74% had previously had the flu, and 18% subjectively reported previous side effects from the flu vaccine. Overall, 54% of respondents believed their agency has influenza or respiratory specific plans or procedures.
In a large, state-wide survey of EMS clinicians, overall influenza vaccination coverage was 79.4%. Understanding the underlying beliefs of EMS clinicians remains a critical priority for protecting these frontline clinicians. Agencies should consider practical policies, such as on-duty vaccination, to increase uptake.
The national response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has highlighted critical weaknesses in domestic health care and public health emergency preparedness, despite nearly 2 decades of federal funding for multiple programs designed to encourage cross-cutting collaboration in emergency response. Health-care coalitions (HCCs), which are funded through the Hospital Preparedness Program, were first piloted in 2007 and have been continuously funded nationwide since 2012 to support broad collaborations across public health, emergency management, emergency medical services, and the emergency response arms of the health-care system within a geographical area. This commentary provides a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis to summarize the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats related to the current HCC model against the backdrop of COVID-19. We close with concrete recommendations for better leveraging the HCC model for improved health-care system readiness. These include better evaluating the role of HCCs and their members (including the responsibility of the HCC to better communicate and align with other sectors), reconsidering the existing framework for HCC administration, increasing incentives for meaningful community participation in HCC preparedness, and supporting next-generation development of health-care preparedness systems for future pandemics.
The purpose of this study was to demonstrate the use of social network analysis to understand public discourse on Twitter around the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. We examined different network properties that might affect the successful dissemination by and adoption of public health messages from public health officials and health agencies.
We focused on conversations on Twitter during 3 key communication events from late January to early June of 2020. We used Netlytic, a Web-based software that collects publicly available data from social media sites such as Twitter.
We found that the network of conversations around COVID-19 is highly decentralized, fragmented, and loosely connected; these characteristics can hinder the successful dissemination of public health messages in a network. Competing conversations and misinformation can hamper risk communication efforts in a way that imperil public health.
Looking at basic metrics might create a misleading picture of the effectiveness of risk communication efforts on social media if not analyzed within the context of the larger network. Social network analysis of conversations on social media should be an integral part of how public health officials and agencies plan, monitor, and evaluate risk communication efforts.
The lack of radiation knowledge among the general public continues to be a challenge for building communities prepared for radiological emergencies. This study applied a multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) to the results of an expert survey to identify priority risk reduction messages and challenges to increasing community radiological emergency preparedness.
Professionals with expertise in radiological emergency preparedness, state/local health and emergency management officials, and journalists/journalism academics were surveyed following a purposive sampling methodology. An MCDA was used to weight criteria of importance in a radiological emergency, and the weighted criteria were applied to topics such as sheltering-in-place, decontamination, and use of potassium iodide. Results were reviewed by respondent group and in aggregate.
Sheltering-in-place and evacuation plans were identified as the most important risk reduction measures to communicate to the public. Possible communication challenges during a radiological emergency included access to accurate information; low levels of public trust; public knowledge about radiation; and communications infrastructure failures.
Future assessments for community readiness for a radiological emergency should include questions about sheltering-in-place and evacuation plans to inform risk communication.
Since its 1960s origins, the Haddon matrix has served as a tool to understand and prevent diverse mechanisms of injuries and promote safety. Potential remains for broadened application and innovation of the matrix for disaster preparedness. Hospital functionality and efficiency are particularly important components of community vulnerability in developed and developing nations alike. Given the Haddon matrixʼs user-friendly approach to integrating current engineering concepts, behavioral sciences, and policy dimensions, we seek to apply it in the context of hospital earthquake preparedness and response. The matrixʼs framework lends itself to interdisciplinary planning and collaboration between social and physical sciences, paving the way for a systems-oriented reduction in vulnerabilities. Here, using an associative approach to integrate seemingly disparate social and physical science disciplines yields innovative insights about hospital disaster preparedness for earthquakes. We illustrate detailed examples of pre-event, event, and post-event engineering, behavioral science, and policy factors that hospital planners should evaluate given the complex nature, rapid onset, and broad variation in impact and outcomes of earthquakes. This novel contextual examination of the Haddon matrix can enhance critical infrastructure disaster preparedness across the epidemiologic triad, by integrating essential principles of behavioral sciences, policy, law, and engineering to earthquake preparedness.
Novel approaches to improving disaster response have begun to include the use of big data and information and communication technology (ICT). However, there remains a dearth of literature on the use of these technologies in disasters. We have conducted an integrative literature review on the role of ICT and big data in disasters. Included in the review were 113 studies that met our predetermined inclusion criteria. Most studies used qualitative methods (39.8%, n=45) over mixed methods (31%, n=35) or quantitative methods (29.2%, n=33). Nearly 80% (n=88) covered only the response phase of disasters and only 15% (n=17) of the studies addressed disasters in low- and middle-income countries. The 4 most frequently mentioned tools were geographic information systems, social media, patient information, and disaster modeling. We suggest testing ICT and big data tools more widely, especially outside of high-income countries, as well as in nonresponse phases of disasters (eg, disaster recovery), to increase an understanding of the utility of ICT and big data in disasters. Future studies should also include descriptions of the intended users of the tools, as well as implementation challenges, to assist other disaster response professionals in adapting or creating similar tools. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2019;13:353–367)
Obesity is a major risk factor for osteoarthritis (OA) whilst there is some evidence that diabetes also increases risk. Metformin is a common oral treatment for those with diabetes.
The aim is to investigate whether metformin reduces the risk of OA.
This was a cohort study set within the Consultations in Primary Care Archive, with 3217 patients with type 2 diabetes. Patients at 13 general practices with recorded type 2 diabetes in the baseline period (2002–2003) and no prior record of OA were identified. Exposure was a prescription for metformin. Outcome was an OA record during follow up. Cox proportional hazard models with Gamma frailty term were fitted: adjusted for age, gender, deprivation, and comorbidity.
There was no association between prescribed metformin treatment at baseline and OA (adjusted HR: 1.02, 95% CI: 0.91, 1.15). A similar non- significant association was found when allowing exposure status of prescription of metformin to vary over time.
During natural disasters, hospital evacuation may be necessary to ensure patient safety and care. We aimed to examine perceptions of stakeholders involved in these decisions throughout the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States during Hurricane Sandy in October 2012.
Semistructured interviews were conducted from March 2014 to February 2015 to characterize stakeholders’ perceptions about authority and responsibility for acute care hospital evacuation/shelter-in-place decision-making in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York during Hurricane Sandy. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and thematically analyzed using a framework approach.
We interviewed 42 individuals from 32 organizations. Hospital executives from all states reported having authority and responsibility for evacuation/shelter-in-place decision-making. In New York and Maryland, government officials stated that they could order hospital evacuation, whereas officials in Delaware and New Jersey said the government lacked enforcement capacity and therefore could not mandate evacuation.
Among government officials, perceived authority for hospital evacuation/shelter-in-place decision-making was viewed as a prerequisite to ordering evacuation. When both hospital executives and government officials perceive themselves to possess decision-making authority, there is the potential for inaction. Future work should examine whether a single entity bearing ultimate responsibility or regional emergency response coalitions would improve decision-making. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2016;10:320–324)
We trained local public health workers on disaster recovery roles and responsibilities by using a novel curriculum based on a threat and efficacy framework and a training-of-trainers approach. This study used qualitative data to assess changes in perceptions of efficacy toward Hurricane Sandy recovery and willingness to participate in future disaster recoveries.
Purposive and snowball sampling were used to select trainers and trainees from participating local public health departments in jurisdictions impacted by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. Two focus groups totaling 29 local public health workers were held in April and May of 2015. Focus group participants discussed the content and quality of the curriculum, training logistics, and their willingness to engage in future disaster recovery efforts.
The training curriculum improved participants’ understanding of and confidence in their disaster recovery work and related roles within their agencies (self-efficacy); increased their individual- and agency-level sense of role-importance in disaster recovery (response-efficacy); and enhanced their sense of their agencies’ effective functioning in disaster recovery. Participants suggested further training customization and inclusion of other recovery agencies.
Threat- and efficacy-based disaster recovery trainings show potential to increase public health workers’ sense of efficacy and willingness to participate in recovery efforts. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2016;10:615–622)
We aimed to quantitatively gauge local public health workers’ perceptions toward disaster recovery role expectations among jurisdictions in New Jersey and Maryland affected by Hurricane Sandy.
An online survey was made available in 2014 to all employees in 8 Maryland and New Jersey local health departments whose jurisdictions had been impacted by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. The survey included perceptions of their actual disaster recovery involvement across 3 phases: days to weeks, weeks to months, and months to years. The survey also queried about their perceptions about future involvement and future available support.
Sixty-four percent of the 1047 potential staff responded to the survey (n=669). Across the 3 phases, 72% to 74% of the pre-Hurricane Sandy hires knew their roles in disaster recovery, 73% to 75% indicated confidence in their assigned roles (self-efficacy), and 58% to 63% indicated that their participation made a difference (response efficacy). Of the respondents who did not think it likely that they would be asked to participate in future disaster recovery efforts (n=70), 39% indicated a willingness to participate.
The marked gaps identified in local public health workers’ awareness of, sense of efficacy toward, and willingness to participate in disaster recovery efforts after Hurricane Sandy represent a significant infrastructural concern of policy and programmatic relevance. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2016;10:371–377)
The local public health agency (LPHA) workforce is at the center of the public health emergency preparedness system and is integral to locally driven disaster recovery efforts. Throughout the disaster recovery period, LPHAs have a primary responsibility for community health and are responsible for a large number of health services. In the face of decreasing preparedness funding and increasing frequency and severity of disasters, LPHAs continue to provide essential disaster life cycle services to their communities. However, little is known about the confidence that LPHA workers have in performing disaster recovery-related duties. To date, there is no widely used instrument to measure LPHA workers’ sense of efficacy, nor is there an educational intervention designed specifically to bolster disaster recovery-phase efficacy perceptions. Here, we describe the important role of the LPHA workforce in disaster recovery and the operational- and efficacy-related research gaps inherent in today’s disaster recovery practices. We then propose a behavioral framework that can be used to examine LPHA workers’ disaster recovery perceptions and suggest a research agenda to enhance LPHA workforce disaster recovery efficacy through an evidence-informed educational intervention. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2015;9:403–408)
The legal environment may improve response willingness among local health department (LHD) workers. We examined whether 3 hypothetical legal protections influence LHD workers’ self-reported response willingness for 4 emergency scenarios and whether specific demographic factors are associated with LHD workers’ response willingness given these legal protections.
Our 2011–2012 survey included questions on demographics and about attitudes and beliefs regarding LHD workers’ willingness to respond to 4 emergency scenarios given specific legal protections (i.e., ensuring priority health care for workers’ families, granting workers access to mental health services, and guaranteeing access to personal protective equipment). Data were collected from 1238 LHD workers in 3 states.
Across scenarios, between 60% and 83% of LHD workers agreed that they would be more willing to respond given the presence of 1 of the 3 hypothetical legal protections. Among the 3 legal protections, a guarantee of personal protective equipment elicited the greatest agreement with improved response willingness.
Specific legal protections augment a majority of LHD workers’ response willingness. Policymakers must, however, balance improved response willingness with other considerations, such as the ethical implications of prioritizing responders over the general public. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2015;9:98–102)