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In October 2010, the Haitian Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP; Port au Prince, Haiti) reported a cholera epidemic caused by contamination of the Artibonite River by a United Nation Stabilization Mission camp. Interventional studies of the subsequent responses, including a descriptive Methods section and systematic approach, may be useful in facilitating comparisons and applying lessons learned to future outbreaks. The purpose of this study was to examine publicly available documents relating to the 2010 cholera outbreak to answer: (1) What information is publicly available on interventional studies conducted during the epidemic, and what was/were the impact(s)? and (2) Can the interventions be compared, and what lessons can be learned from their comparison?
A PubMed (National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Institutes of Health; Bethesda, Maryland USA) search was conducted using the parameters “Haiti” and “cholera.” Studies were categorized as “interventional research,” “epidemiological research,” or “other.” A distinction was made between studies and narrative reports. The PubMed search yielded 171 papers, 59 (34.0%) of which were epidemiological and 12 (7.0%) were interventional studies. The remaining 100 papers (59.0%) comprised largely of narrative, anecdotal descriptions. An expanded examination of publications by the World Health Organization (WHO; Geneva, Switzerland), the Center for Research in the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED; Brussels, Belgium), United States Agency for International Development (USAID; Washington, DC USA)-Development Experience Clearinghouse (DEC), and US National Library of Medicine’s (NLM; Bethesda, Maryland USA) Disaster Literature databases yielded no additional interventional studies. The unstructured formats and differing levels of detail prohibited comparisons between interventions, even between those with a similar approach. Only two (17.0%) interventional studies included any impact data, although neither commented whether the intervention improved health or reduced incidence or mortality related to cholera. Agreed frameworks for guiding responses and subsequent reporting are needed to ensure reports contain sufficient detail to draw conclusions for the definition of best practices and for the design of future interventions.
MillerJ, BirnbaumML. Characterization of Interventional Studies of the Cholera Epidemic in Haiti. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2018;33(2):176–181.
Disaster Medicine is a relatively new discipline. Understanding of the current status of its science is needed in order to develop a roadmap for the direction and structure of future studies that will contribute to building the science of the health aspects of disasters (HADs). The objective of this study was to examine the existing, peer-reviewed literature relevant to the HADs to determine the status of the currently available literature underlying the science of the HADs. A total of 709 consecutive, peer-reviewed articles published from 2009-2014 in two disaster-health-related medical journals, Prehospital and Disaster Medicine (PDM) and Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness (DMPHP), were examined. Of these, 495 were disaster-related (PDM, 248; DMPHP, 247). Three major categories defined these disaster-related research articles: (1) Epidemiological studies comprised 50.5%; (2) Interventional, 20.3%; and (3) Syntheses, 26.9%. Interventional studies were sub-categorized into: (a) Relief Responses, 23.0%; (b) Recovery Responses, 2.0%; or (c) Risk-Reduction Interventions, 75.0%. Basically, the inventories were consistent within the two journals. Reported indicators of outcomes related to the responses were constrained to achievement indicators (numbers accomplished). Syntheses articles were sub-categorized into: (a) Literature Reviews, 17.6%; (b) Opinions, 25.2%; (c) Models, 24.4%; (d) Frameworks, 6.9%; (e) Guidelines, 13.0%; (f) Tools, 3.0%; (g) Protocols, Policies, or Criteria, 2.3%; or (h) Conference Summaries, 7.6%. Trend analyses indicated that the relative proportions of articles in each category and sub-category remained relatively constant over the five years. No randomized controlled trials (RTCs), non-randomized, comparative controlled trials (CCTs), or systematic reviews were published in these journals during the period examined. Each article also was examined qualitatively for objectives, study type, content, language, and structure. There was no common structure used for any category or sub-categories. In addition, the terminology used was inconsistent and often confusing. This categorization process should be applied to other peer-reviewed journals that publish research related to HADs. As evidenced in the current study, the evidence base for HADs is far from robust and is disorganized, making the development of scientific evidence on which to base best practices difficult. A stronger evidence base is needed to develop the science associated with the HADs. This will require a common structure and terminology to facilitate comparisons. Greater depth of reporting is needed in order to render the Epidemiological studies more useful in mitigating the negative health impacts of hazard-related events. Interventional studies must be structured and include outcomes, impacts, benefits, and costs with robust indicators. The outcomes and impacts of Risk-Reduction Interventions will require the evaluation of changes in the epidemiology documented in future events or exercises.
BirnbaumML, AdibhatlaS, DudekO, Ramsel-MillerJ. Categorization and Analysis of Disaster Health Publications: An Inventory. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2017;32(5):473–482.
A disaster is a failure of resilience to an event. Mitigating the risks that a hazard will progress into a destructive event, or increasing the resilience of a society-at-risk, requires careful analysis, planning, and execution. The Disaster Logic Model (DLM) is used to define the value (effects, costs, and outcome(s)), impacts, and benefits of interventions directed at risk reduction. A Risk-Reduction Framework, based on the DLM, details the processes involved in hazard mitigation and/or capacity-building interventions to augment the resilience of a community or to decrease the risk that a secondary event will develop. This Framework provides the structure to systematically undertake and evaluate risk-reduction interventions. It applies to all interventions aimed at hazard mitigation and/or increasing the absorbing, buffering, or response capacities of a community-at-risk for a primary or secondary event that could result in a disaster. The Framework utilizes the structure provided by the DLM and consists of 14 steps: (1) hazards and risks identification; (2) historical perspectives and predictions; (3) selection of hazard(s) to address; (4) selection of appropriate indicators; (5) identification of current resilience standards and benchmarks; (6) assessment of the current resilience status; (7) identification of resilience needs; (8) strategic planning; (9) selection of an appropriate intervention; (10) operational planning; (11) implementation; (12) assessments of outputs; (13) synthesis; and (14) feedback. Each of these steps is a transformation process that is described in detail. Emphasis is placed on the role of Coordination and Control during planning, implementation of risk-reduction/capacity building interventions, and evaluation.
BirnbaumML, DailyEK, O’RourkeAP, LorettiA. Research and Evaluations of the Health Aspects of Disasters, Part IX: Risk-Reduction Framework. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2016;31(3):309–325.
There is a cascade of risks associated with a hazard evolving into a disaster that consists of the risk that: (1) a hazard will produce an event; (2) an event will cause structural damage; (3) structural damage will create functional damages and needs; (4) needs will create an emergency (require use of the local response capacity); and (5) the needs will overwhelm the local response capacity and result in a disaster (ie, the need for outside assistance). Each step along the continuum/cascade can be characterized by its probability of occurrence and the probability of possible consequences of its occurrence, and each risk is dependent upon the preceding occurrence in the progression from a hazard to a disaster. Risk-reduction measures are interventions (actions) that can be implemented to: (1) decrease the risk that a hazard will manifest as an event; (2) decrease the amounts of structural and functional damages that will result from the event; and/or (3) increase the ability to cope with the damage and respond to the needs that result from an event. Capacity building increases the level of resilience by augmenting the absorbing and/or buffering and/or response capacities of a community-at-risk. Risks for some hazards vary by the context in which they exist and by the Societal System(s) involved.
BirnbaumML, LorettiA, DailyEK, O’RourkeAP. Research and Evaluations of the Health Aspects of Disasters, Part VIII: Risk, Risk Reduction, Risk Management, and Capacity Building. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2016;31(3):300–308.
The principal goal of research relative to disasters is to decrease the risk that a hazard will result in a disaster. Disaster studies pursue two distinct directions: (1) epidemiological (non-interventional); and (2) interventional. Both interventional and non-interventional studies require data/information obtained from assessments of function. Non-interventional studies examine the epidemiology of disasters. Interventional studies evaluate specific interventions/responses in terms of their effectiveness in meeting their respective objectives, their contribution to the overarching goal, other effects created, their respective costs, and the efficiency with which they achieved their objectives. The results of interventional studies should contribute to evidence that will be used to inform the decisions used to define standards of care and best practices for a given setting based on these standards. Interventional studies are based on the Disaster Logic Model (DLM) and are used to change or maintain levels of function (LOFs). Relief and Recovery interventional studies seek to determine the effects, outcomes, impacts, costs, and value of the intervention provided after the onset of a damaging event. The Relief/Recovery Framework provides the structure needed to systematically study the processes involved in providing relief or recovery interventions that result in a new LOF for a given Societal System and/or its component functions. It consists of the following transformational processes (steps): (1) identification of the functional state prior to the onset of the event (pre-event); (2) assessments of the current functional state; (3) comparison of the current functional state with the pre-event state and with the results of the last assessment; (4) needs identification; (5) strategic planning, including establishing the overall strategic goal(s), objectives, and priorities for interventions; (6) identification of options for interventions; (7) selection of the most appropriate intervention(s); (8) operational planning; (9) implementation of the intervention(s); (10) assessments of the effects and changes in LOFs resulting from the intervention(s); (11) determination of the costs of providing the intervention; (12) determination of the current functional status; (13) synthesis of the findings with current evidence to define the benefits and value of the intervention to the affected population; and (14) codification of the findings into new evidence. Each of these steps in the Framework is a production function that facilitates evaluation, and the outputs of the transformation process establish the current state for the next step in the process. The evidence obtained is integrated into augmenting the respective Response Capacities of a community-at-risk. The ultimate impact of enhanced Response Capacity is determined by studying the epidemiology of the next event.
BirnbaumML, DailyEK, O’RourkeAP. Research and Evaluations of the Health Aspects of Disasters, Part VII: The Relief/Recovery Framework. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2016;31(2):195–210.
Disaster-related interventions are actions or responses undertaken during any phase of a disaster to change the current status of an affected community or a Societal System. Interventional disaster research aims to evaluate the results of such interventions in order to develop standards and best practices in Disaster Health that can be applied to disaster risk reduction. Considering interventions as production functions (transformation processes) structures the analyses and cataloguing of interventions/responses that are implemented prior to, during, or following a disaster or other emergency. Since currently it is not possible to do randomized, controlled studies of disasters, in order to validate the derived standards and best practices, the results of the studies must be compared and synthesized with results from other studies (ie, systematic reviews). Such reviews will be facilitated by the selected studies being structured using accepted frameworks. A logic model is a graphic representation of the transformation processes of a program [project] that shows the intended relationships between investments and results. Logic models are used to describe a program and its theory of change, and they provide a method for the analyzing and evaluating interventions. The Disaster Logic Model (DLM) is an adaptation of a logic model used for the evaluation of educational programs and provides the structure required for the analysis of disaster-related interventions. It incorporates a(n): definition of the current functional status of a community or Societal System, identification of needs, definition of goals, selection of objectives, implementation of the intervention(s), and evaluation of the effects, outcomes, costs, and impacts of the interventions. It is useful for determining the value of an intervention and it also provides the structure for analyzing the processes used in providing the intervention according to the Relief/Recovery and Risk-Reduction Frameworks.
BirnbaumML, DailyEK, O’RourkeAP, KushnerJ. Research and Evaluations of the Health Aspects of Disasters, Part VI: Interventional Research and the Disaster Logic Model. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2016;31(2):181–194.
Each of the elements described in the Conceptual Framework for disasters has a temporal designation; each has a beginning and end time. The Temporal Framework defines these elements as phases that are based on characteristics rather than on absolute times. The six temporal phases include the: (1) Pre-event; (2) Event; (3) Structural Damage; (4) Functional Damage (changes in levels of functions of the Societal Systems); (5) Relief; and (6) Recovery phases. Development is not a phase of a disaster. The use of the Temporal Framework in studying and reporting disasters allows comparisons to be made between similar phases of different disasters, regardless of the hazard involved and/or the community impacted. For research and evaluation purposes, assessments, plans, and interventions must be described in relation to the appropriate temporal phase.
BirnbaumML, DailyEK, O’RourkeAP. Research and Evaluations of the Health Aspects of Disasters, Part III: Framework for the Temporal Phases of Disasters. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2015;30(6):628–632.
Studies of the health aspect of disasters focus either on the epidemiology of disasters to define the causes and the progression from a hazard to a disaster, or the evaluations of interventions provided during any phase of a disaster. Epidemiological disaster research studies are undertaken for the purposes of: (1) understanding the mechanisms by which hazards evolve into a disaster; (2) determining ways to mitigate the risk(s) that a specific hazard will progress into a disaster; (3) predicting the likely damages and needs of the population-at-risk for an event; and (4) identifying potential measures to increase the resilience of a community to future events. Epidemiological disaster research utilizes the Conceptual, Temporal, and Societal Frameworks to define what occurs when a hazard manifests as an event that causes a disaster. The findings from such studies should suggest interventions that could augment the absorbing, buffering, or/and response capacities to lessen the probability of similar damages occurring from the next event. Ultimately, the use of these Frameworks in studying the health aspects of a disaster will help define what to expect in a specific setting and the standards and best practices upon which education, training, competencies, performance, and professionalization will be built.
BirnbaumML, DailyEK, O’RourkeAP. Research and Evaluations of the Health Aspects of Disasters, Part V: Epidemiological Disaster Research. Prehosp Disaster Med.2015;30(6):648–656.
For the purposes of research and/or evaluation, a community/society is organized into 13 Societal Systems under the umbrella of an overall Coordination and Control System. This organization facilitates descriptions of a community/society or a component of a community for assessment at any designated time across the Temporal Phases of a disaster. Such assessments provide a picture of the functional status of one or more Systems that comprise a community. Since no system operates in isolation from the other systems, information of the concomitant status of several Societal Systems is crucial to gaining a complete understanding of compromised functions, as well as the effects and side effects of any intervention directed at restoring the functional state of the affected community or risk-reduction interventions of a community-at-risk. The 13 Societal Systems include: (1) Public Health; (2) Medical Care; (3) Water and Sanitation; (4) Shelter and Clothing; (5) Food and Nutrition; (6) Energy Supply; (7) Public Works and Engineering; (8) Social Structures; (9) Logistics and Transportation; (10) Security; (11) Communications; (12) Economy; and (13) Education. Many functions and sub-functions of the Systems overlap, or share some common sub-functions with other systems. For the purposes of research/evaluation, it is necessary to assign functions and sub-functions to only one of the Societal Systems.
BirnbaumML, DailyEK, O’RourkeAP. Research and Evaluations of the Health Aspects of Disasters, Part IV: Framework for Societal Structures: the Societal Systems. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2015;30(6):633–647.
The ultimate goals of conducting disaster research are to obtain information to: (1) decrease risks that a hazard will produce a disaster; (2) decrease the mortality associated with disasters; (3) decrease the morbidity associated with disasters; and (4) enhance recovery of the affected community. And decrease the risks that a hazard will produce a disaster. Two principal, but inter-related, branches of disaster research are: (1) Epidemiological; and (2) Interventional. Epidemiological research explores the relationships and occurrences that comprise a disaster from a particular event. Interventional research involves evaluations of interventions, whether they are directed at relief, recovery, hazard mitigation, capacity building, or performance. In response to the need for the discipline of Disaster Health to build its science on data that are generalizeable and comparable, a Disaster Logic Model (DLM) and a set of five Frameworks have been developed to structure the information and research of the health aspects of disasters. These Frameworks consist of the: (1) Conceptual; (2) Temporal; (3) Societal; (4) Relief/Recovery; and (5) Risk-Reduction Frameworks. The Frameworks provide a standardized format for studying and comparing the epidemiology of disasters, and with the addition of the DLM, for evaluating the interventions (responses) provided prior to, during, and following a disaster, especially as they relate to the health status of the people affected by, or at-risk for, a disaster. Critical to all five Frameworks is the inclusion of standardized definitions of the terms. The Conceptual Framework describes the progression of a hazard that becomes an event, which causes structural damage, which, in turn, results in compromised, decreased, or losses of function(s) (functional damage) that, in turn, produce needs that lead to an emergency or a disaster. The Framework incorporates a cascade of risks that lead from the presence of a hazard to the development of a disaster. Risk is the likelihood that each of the steps leading from a hazard to a disaster will take place, as well as the probabilities of consequences of each of the elements in the Conceptual Framework. The Temporal Framework describes this chronological progression as phases in order of their appearance in time; some may occur concurrently. In order to study and compare the effects of an event on the complex amalgam that constitutes a community, the essential functions of a community have been deconstructed into 13 Societal Systems that comprise the Societal Framework. These diverse, but inter-related, Societal Systems interface with each other through a 14th System, Coordination and Control. The DLM can be used to identify the effects, costs, outcomes, and impacts of any intervention. Both the Relief/Recovery and Risk-Reduction Frameworks are based on the DLM. The Relief/Recovery Framework provides the structure necessary to systematically evaluate the processes involved in interventions provided during the Relief or Recovery phases of a disaster. The Risk-Reduction Framework details the processes involved in interventions aimed at mitigating the risk that a hazard will produce a destructive event, and/or in capacity building to augment the resilience of a community to the consequences of such an event.
BirnbaumML, DailyEK, O’RourkeAP, LorettiA. Research and Evaluations of the Health Aspects of Disasters, Part I: An Overview. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2015;30(5):512–522.
A Conceptual Framework upon which the study of disasters can be organized is essential for understanding the epidemiology of disasters, as well as the interventions/responses undertaken. Application of the structure provided by the Conceptual Framework should facilitate the development of the science of Disaster Health. This Framework is based on deconstructions of the commonly used Disaster Management Cycle. The Conceptual Framework incorporates the steps that occur as a hazard progresses to a disaster. It describes an event that results from the changes in the release of energy from a hazard that may cause Structural Damages that in turn, may result in Functional Damages (decreases in levels of function) that produce needs (goods and services required). These needs can be met by the goods and services that are available during normal, day-to-day operations of the community, or the resources that are contained within the community’s Response Capacity (ie, an Emergency), or by goods and services provided from outside of the affected area (outside response capacities). Whenever the Local Response Capacity is unable to meet the needs, and the Response Capacities from areas outside of the affected community are required, a disaster occurs. All responses, whether in the Relief or Recovery phases of a disaster, are interventions that use the goods, services, and resources contained in the Response Capacity (local or outside). Responses may be directed at preventing/mitigating further deterioration in levels of functions (damage control, deaths, injuries, diseases, morbidity, and secondary events) in the affected population and filling the gaps in available services created by Structural Damages (compromise in available goods, services, and/or resources; ie, Relief Responses), or may be directed toward returning the affected community and its components to the pre-event functional state (ie, Recovery Responses). Hazard Mitigation includes interventions designed to decrease the likelihood that a hazard will cause an event, and should an event occur, that the amount of energy released will be reduced. Capacity Building consists of all interventions undertaken before an event occurs in order to increase the resilience of the community to an event related to a hazard that exists in an area-at-risk. Resilience is the combination of the Absorbing, Buffering, and Response Capacities of a community-at-risk, and is enhanced through Capacity-Building efforts. A disaster constitutes a failure of resilience.
BirnbaumML, DailyEK, O’RourkeAP, LorettiA. Research and Evaluations of the Health Aspects of Disasters, Part II: The Disaster Health Conceptual Framework Revisited. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2015;30(5):523–538.
The goals of conducting disaster research are to obtain information to: (1) decrease the human, environmental, and economic losses; (2) decrease morbidity; (3) decrease pain and suffering; and (4) enhance the recovery of the affected population. Two principal, but inter-related, branches of disaster research are: (1) Epidemiological; and (2) Interventional. In response to the need for the discipline of disaster health to build its science on data that are generalizable and comparable, a set of five Frameworks have been developed to structure the information and research of the health aspects of disasters: (1) Conceptual; (2) Longitudinal; (3) Transectional Societal; (4) Relief-Recovery; and (5) Risk-Reduction. These Frameworks provide a standardized format for studying and comparing the epidemiology of disasters as well as evaluating the interventions (responses) provided prior to, during, and following a disaster, especially as they relate to the health status of the people affected or at-risk. Critical to all five Frameworks is the inclusion of standardized definitions of the terms used to describe factors that lead to and affect the occurrence and severity of a disaster. The Conceptual Framework describes the progression of a hazard that becomes an event, which causes structural damage and a decrease or loss of function (functional damage), that, in turn, produces needs that lead to a disaster. The Longitudinal Framework describes this chronological progression as phases in order of their appearance in time, even though some of them occur concurrently. In order to study and compare the effects of an event on the complex amalgam that constitutes a society, the essential functions of a society have been deconstructed into 13 Basic Societal Systems that comprise the Transectional Societal Framework. These diverse, but inter-related Basic Societal Systems interface with each other through a 14th system called Coordination and Control. Epidemiological research studies the relationships and occurrences that influence and result from a disaster. Interventional research involves the evaluation of interventions, whether they are directed at relief, recovery, hazard mitigation, capacity building, or performance. The Relief-Recovery and Risk-Reduction Frameworks are based on a Disaster Logic Model. The Relief-Recovery Framework provides the structure necessary to systematically evaluate specific interventions provided during the Relief and Recovery phases of a disaster. The Risk-Reduction Framework details the processes involved in mitigating the risk that a hazard will produce a destructive event and/or that capacity building will augment the resilience of a community to the consequences of such an event. It incorporates a cascade of risks that lead from the presence of a hazard to the development of a disaster. Risk is described as the likelihood that each of the steps leading from a hazard to a disaster will take place; it also includes the probable consequences of the occurrence of each of the elements in the Conceptual Framework. The Conceptual, Longitudinal, and Transectional Societal Frameworks are useful in epidemiological research, i.e., the study of the incidence of, and factors influencing events and disasters. The Relief-Recovery and Risk-Reduction Frameworks are added to the Conceptual, Longitudinal, and Transectional Societal Frameworks for conducting and reporting of interventional research/evaluations. Examples of the application of these Frameworks are provided.