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Workplace health promotion for disaster and terrorism response: A resiliency paradigm

Nancy T. Vineburgh, Asst Prof, Robert J. Ursano, MD, Chairman, and Carol S Fullerton, PhD. Department of Psychiatry, Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, 4301 Jones Bridge Rd., Bethesda, MD 20814-4799, 301-295-2470, nvineburgh@usuhs.mil

The Institute of Medicine identifies the workplace as an important environment for addressing the psychological impact of terrorism. Worksite health promotion can play a critical role in offering public health education interventions for the pre-event, event and post-event phases also applicable to other violence and trauma. Terrorism, one type of human caused disaster, may have the highest rates of psychiatric disorders and broadest distress responses. Most often met with resiliency, disaster and terrorism increase distress, lead to altered health and risk behaviors; increase social disruption and psychiatric illness in exposed populations.

Pre-event interventions can educate employees about evacuation and shelter-in-place, life-saving disaster behaviors, and raise awareness of maladaptive behaviors such as increased use of substance abuse, drugs, domestic violence that often result from disaster. During an event, risk communication is an essential intervention for managing the workplace under high stress. Post-event programs can foster information and help seeking leading to early identification and triage of psychological disorders that can impair health and productivity.

Reluctant employers fearful of raising undue anxiety pose a challenge to workplace preparedness. The Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress has created a health promotion model that conceptualizes these interventions using a resiliency paradigm.

Resiliency, the expected outcome of terrorism, is a current and relevant topic of interest in worksite health promotion. Poster session viewers will learn key public health interventions for workplace disaster response and how a resiliency model can engage employer and employee interest to help prevent, mitigate and foster recovery from terrorism.

Learning Objectives:

Related Web page: www.usuhs.mil/psy/disasteresources.shtml

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Worksite Health Promotion -- New Strategies and Successful Techniques

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA