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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.
Research on disaster behavioral health presents significant methodological challenges. Challenges are even more complex for research on mass violence events that involve military members, families, and communities, due to the cultural and logistical considerations of working with this population. The current article aims to inform and educate on this specialized area of research, by presenting a case study on the experience of designing and conducting disaster behavioral health research after a mass violence event in a military setting: the 2013 mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard, in Washington, D.C. Using the case example, the authors explore methodological challenges and lessons learned from conducting research in this context, and provide guidance for future researchers.
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.
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