198766 Pathways to Resilience among African-American and Caucasian Volunteers in the Aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina-Rita

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 3:10 PM

Hoa Bui Appel, PhD, MPH , School of Social Work, Marysville, WA
Amy Ai, PhD , School of Social Work, University of Pittsburg, Pittsburg, PA
Catherine Lemieux, PhD, MSW , School of Social Work, Lousiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA
Knowledge about adaptive disaster response efforts is critical to public health social work. Few studies, however, have examined the human strengths that promote resilience during times of catastrophe. Using structural equation modeling (SEM), the present study examined how altruism and perceived spiritual support might enhance the resilience of volunteers three months after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (H-KR).

A sample of 554 volunteers was recruited social work programs at five universities affected by H-KR. The majority of the sample was female (88%) and African American (54%), with just over one third Caucasian (37%). Depression was measured with the CES-D scale. Hope and optimism were measured with the Hope Scale and the Life Orientation Test, respectively. Altruism was measured using the Altruism Scale. Lastly, the Spiritual Support Scale was used to measure spiritual support.

Results indicated that the SEM model fit the data adequately. As anticipated, all effects of depression of spiritual support and altruism were indirect, mediated through positive attitudes. While faith contributed to both spiritual support and altruism, prayer was directly linked only with spiritual support. Caucasian ethnicity was positively linked with altruism directly, whereas African American ethnicity was associated with both pathways indirectly, mediated through faith factors, with an additional effect on altruism through prayer and spiritual support. Results also showed that volunteers who shared a deep connectedness with others and who held greater hope about the future showed better adjustment following H-KR. The present study underscores the importance of understanding race-related differences in adaptation during disaster response efforts.

Learning Objectives:
1. Discuss how positive psychology has influenced the conceptualization of disaster-related research in the past decade. 2. Identify at least three character strengths and positive characteristics that are empirically-linked to post-disaster positive adaptation. 3. Differentiate three race-related differences in prayer coping during times of crisis. 4. Identify two culturally competent strategies for promoting post-disaster resilience among public health social workers and other health care providers

Keywords: Social Work, African American

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I worked with the primary author on the study
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.