244436 Barriers and facilitators to recruiting and training behavioral health professionals as volunteers during a disaster

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 2:50 PM

Andrew S. LaJoie, PhD, MSPH , Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences, Louisville, KY
Crystal A. Vahrenhold, BS , University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences, Louisville, KY
Emily C. Just, MA , University of Louisville Center for Health Hazards Preparedness, Louisville, KY
Renelle Grubbs-Stallings, LCSW, CTS , University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences, Louisville, KY
Community-wide events, like pandemic flu, rely on volunteers to address surge demands. According to the Integrated Theory of Volunteerism, volunteerism is a function of human-, social- and cultural-capital. Previous studies have examined this theory and volunteer participation in relationship to the general public; however, few studies have evaluated the motivations and barriers of behavioral health professionals. During an event that overtaxes extant public health resources, the mental health support given by volunteer behavioral health professionals is critical. To assess the knowledge, attitude and skills of these professionals concerning disaster volunteerism and to determine their preferences and needs for continuing education in disaster response, a survey was administered to licensed behavioral health professionals throughout Kentucky. Statistical analyses were done to correlate training and likelihood of volunteering. Results indicated most respondents have not received formal or informal training in disaster mental health. While 84% of respondents were not registered volunteers of a disaster response agency, 75% predicted they would offer volunteer assistance in response to a disaster. The results established an individual's morality/ethics, personal responsibility, and a sense of civic duty as important motivations for volunteering. Work and family obligations were the primary barriers. Majority of respondents preferred in-person workshops for continuing education and training as opposed to online structured learning. Cost, location, and time of training were the main obstacles. This study recommends steps that can be taken to recruit, train and deploy behavioral health professionals who can help preserve the mental well-being of victims and disaster respondents.

Learning Areas:
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the barriers and facilitators to recruiting volunteer behavioral health professionals during a disaster. Evaluate the preferences of behavioral health professionals for different methods of continuing education.

Keywords: Disasters, Mental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I developed the ideas, collected and analyzed the data, and wrote much of the paper
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.

See more of: Mental health workforce
See more of: Mental Health