186066 Social vulnerability and poor outcomes in a disaster – a test of measures and models

Wednesday, October 29, 2008: 8:30 AM

David M. Abramson, PhD MPH , National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Columbia University, New York, NY
Angela Campbell , National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Columbia University, New York, NY
Generally speaking, social vulnerability has long been associated with poor outcomes in post-disaster settings. Individuals and groups with the least access to economic and material resources, and the least engagement with civic institutions of political and communal power, are often more likely to be situated in harm's way before a disaster strikes, and are also far less prepared to adapt and cope with its consequences in the wake of a disaster. Several commonly-used social vulnerability indices, including Cutter's Social Vulnerability Index and the UNDP's Human Development Index, were tested for their predictive quality, using census and economic data for Louisiana and Mississippi. County-level data predating Hurricane Katrina were used to establish social vulnerability measures, and they were examined for their association with economic and health-related outcomes in affected and non-affected counties, post-Katrina. Counties were distinguished by whether or not they were designated by FEMA as having sustained considerable damage (117 counties, operating as “cases”) and those counties less affected by the storm (“controls”). Establishing valid and reliable measures of population vulnerability can assist public health and emergency planners in mitigating, preventing, and preparing for disasters, particularly for the most vulnerable populations.

Learning Objectives:
1. Participants will be able to describe the construct of social vulnerability 2. Participants will be able to articulate the theoretical relationship between social vulnerability and poor outcomes, post-disaster 3. Participants will be able to assess the best measures for identifying disaster-related social vulnerability

Keywords: Vulnerable Populations, Disasters

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the principal investigator of a research study collecting and analyzing this data
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.