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Natural disasters are becoming increasingly common, but it is unclear whether families can comprehend and use available resources to prepare for such emergencies. The objective of this study was to evaluate the literacy demands of risk communication materials on natural disasters for US families with children.
In January 2018, we assessed 386 online self-directed learning resources related to emergency preparedness for natural disasters using 5 literacy assessment tools. Assessment scores were compared by information source, audience type, and disaster type.
One-in-three websites represented government institutions, and 3/4 were written for a general audience. Nearly 1-in-5 websites did not specify a disaster type. Assessment scores suggest a mismatch between the general population’s literacy levels and literacy demands of materials in the areas of readability, complexity, suitability, web usability, and overall audience appropriateness. Materials required more years of education beyond the grade level recommended by prominent health organizations. Resources for caregivers of children generally and children with special health care needs possessed lower literacy demands than materials overall, for most assessment tools.
Risk communication and public health agencies could better align the literacy demands of emergency preparedness materials with the literacy capabilities of the general public.
Preparing and responding to the needs of children during public health emergencies continues to be challenging. The purpose of this study was to assess the usefulness of a tabletop exercise in initiating pediatric preparedness strategies and assessing the impact of the exercise on participants’ understanding of and confidence in their roles during pediatric public health emergencies.
A tabletop exercise was developed to simulate a public health emergency scenario involving smallpox in a child, with subsequent spread to multiple states. During the exercise, participants discussed and developed communication, collaboration, and medical countermeasure strategies to enhance pediatric public health preparedness. Exercise evaluation was designed to assess participants’ knowledge gained and level of confidence surrounding pediatric public health emergencies.
In total, 22 participants identified over 100 communication and collaboration strategies to promote pediatric public health preparedness during the exercise and found that the most beneficial aspect during the exercise was the partnership between pediatricians and public health officials. Participants’ knowledge and level of confidence surrounding a pediatric public health emergency increased after the exercise.
The tabletop exercise was effective in identifying strategies to improve pediatric public health preparedness as well as enhancing participants’ knowledge and confidence surrounding a potential pediatric public health emergency. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2018;12:582–586)
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