206050 Culturally Competent Emergency Planning and the Utilization of Cultural Brokers: Enhancing the Resilience of Diverse Populations

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sarah J. Powell, MA , Public Health Department, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
Tamar Klaiman, MPH , Department of Public Health, Temple University Center for Preparedness Research, Education, and Practice, Philadelphia, PA
Zainab Abedin, MPH , Department of Public Health, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
Cayce Hughes, MPH , Department of Public Health, Temple University Center for Preparedness Research, Education, and Practice, Philadelphia, PA
Alice Hausman, PhD, MPH , Department of Public Health, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
The importance of effective emergency planning for disasters cannot be understated, particularly in light of recent global disaster events. The need for more nuanced, effective, and culturally competent communication strategies is continually raised (Guttman & Salmon 2004), though at the planning level, partnership with diverse communities is still lacking. Much planning rests on assumptions of compliance that take little account of decades of mistrust between diverse cultural groups and government authorities. We conducted an exploratory pilot study in April and June 2008 that included two semi-structured focus groups with Philadelphia residents from diverse cultural groups. We conducted the pilot because, to date, Philadelphia authorities and emergency planners lack input from diverse communities about how they might respond to emergency directives to shelter-in-place, evacuate, or attend Points of Dispensing (PODs) for mass prophylaxis during an emergency. The focus group participants provided insights about the relative willingness of community leaders to act as cultural brokers around preparedness messages and also brought to light potential barriers that could be surmounted at the pre-disaster phase by involving communities in the planning process. Building trust with diverse communities must be a priority for government planners if communication, planning, and response efforts are to be effective. By focusing on the strengths and resilience of diverse communities, authorities can tap into extant social networks and cultural brokers to better reach isolated communities and thereby foster partnership, rather than opposition, with diverse populations.

Learning Objectives:
Identify three potential barriers to effective communication and government directive compliance with diverse populations during a disaster. Identify three Best Practices in culturally competent planning efforts, including a focus on community strengths and resilience. Recognize the importance of culturally competent planning and communication for disaster response and government directives

Keywords: Cultural Competency, Disasters

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I rand this pilot study and I have been Director of Temple Univerity's Center for Public Health Preparedness Research Education and Practice (CPREP) for nearly five years. I certainly have the expertise and experience in disaster-related material from this directorship and as I am a medical anthropologist by training, I can certainly answer to issues of cultural compentence.
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.