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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.
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.
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).
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.
Community characteristics, such as collective efficacy, a measure of community strength, can affect behavioral responses following disasters. We measured collective efficacy 1 month before multiple hurricanes in 2005, and assessed its association to preparedness 9 months following the hurricane season.
Participants were 631 Florida Department of Health workers who responded to multiple hurricanes in 2004 and 2005. They completed questionnaires that were distributed electronically approximately 1 month before (6.2005-T1) and 9 months after (6.2006-T2) several storms over the 2005 hurricane season. Collective efficacy, preparedness behaviors, and socio-demographics were assessed at T1, and preparedness behaviors and hurricane-related characteristics (injury, community-related damage) were assessed at T2. Participant ages ranged from 21-72 (M(SD) = 48.50 (10.15)), and the majority were female (78%).
In linear regression models, univariate analyses indicated that being older (B = 0.01, SE = 0.003, P < 0.001), White (B = 0.22, SE = 0.08, P < 0.01), and married (B = 0.05, SE = 0.02, p < 0.001) was associated with preparedness following the 2005 hurricanes. Multivariate analyses, adjusting for socio-demographics, preparedness (T1), and hurricane-related characteristics (T2), found that higher collective efficacy (T1) was associated with preparedness after the hurricanes (B = 0.10, SE = 0.03, P < 0.01; and B = 0.47, SE = 0.04, P < 0.001 respectively).
Programs enhancing collective efficacy may be a significant part of prevention practices and promote preparedness efforts before disasters.
Community characteristics, such as perceived collective efficacy, a measure of community strength, can affect mental health outcomes following disasters. We examined the association of perceived collective efficacy with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and frequent mental distress (14 or more mentally unhealthy days in the past month) following exposure to the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons.
Participants were 1486 Florida Department of Health workers who completed anonymous questionnaires that were distributed electronically 9 months after the 2005 hurricane season. Participant ages ranged from 20 to 79 years (mean, 48; SD, 10.7), and the majority were female (79%), white (75%), and currently married (64%). Fifty percent had a BA/BS degree or higher.
In 2 separate logistic regression models, each adjusted for individual sociodemographics, community socioeconomic characteristics, individual injury/damage, and community storm damage, lower perceived collective efficacy was significantly associated with a greater likelihood of having PTSD (OR, 0.93; 95% CI, 0.90-0.96), and lower collective efficacy was significantly associated with frequent mental distress (OR, 0.94; 95% CI, 0.92-0.96).
Programs enhancing community collective efficacy may be a significant part of prevention practices and possibly lead to a reduction in the rate of PTSD and persistent distress postdisaster. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2019;13:44–52).
Background: We examined the relation of sleep disturbance and arousal to work performance, mental and physical health, and day-to-day functioning in Florida Department of Health (FDOH) employees 9 months after the 2004 Florida hurricane season.
Methods: FDOH employees were contacted via e-mail 9 months after the 2004 hurricanes. Participants (N = 2249) completed electronic questionnaires including measures of sleep disturbance, arousal, work performance, physical health, mental health, day-to-day function, hurricane injury, and work demand.
Results: More than 18% of FDOH employees reported ≥25% reduced work performance and 11% to 15.3% reported ≥7 “bad” mental or physical health days in the past month. Sleep disturbance and elevated arousal were strongly associated with impaired work performance (odds ratios [ORs] 3.33 and 3.34, respectively), “bad” mental health (ORs 3.01 and 3.64), “bad” physical health (ORs 3.21 and 2.01), and limited day-to-day function (ORs 4.71 and 2.32), even after adjusting for sex, race, age, education, and marital status.
Conclusions: Among public health workers exposed to the 2004 hurricanes, sleep disturbance and arousal were associated with personal and work impairment. Future research should continue to examine the effect of repeated exposure to disasters in first responders.
(Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2010;4:S55-S62)
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