249723 Disaster experiences in the United States: Findings from a national telephone survey

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Melissa M. Kelley, MS , School of Public Health, Community Health Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Linda B. Bourque, PhD , Department of Community Health Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles School of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA
Background: Disasters have been identified as a significant public health problem due to their potential impacts. The aim of this analysis was to describe: who reported disaster experiences, what types of experiences were reported, where reported disasters occurred, when these disasters occurred, and how they impacted people.

Methods: Data were from the National Survey of Disaster Experiences and Preparedness, a nationally representative random-digit-dial telephone survey of adults 18 years of age and older. Disaster experience data were from an open-ended question while demographic, location, date and impact data were from close-ended questions. Descriptive and inferential statistics were performed.

Results: Select demographic characteristics were examined in relation to disaster experience. Race/ethnicity, marital status and income had a statistically significant association with disaster experience (p-value <0.001), whereas gender and geographic strata were not. Of the respondents reporting a disaster experience, the most frequently mentioned disaster types were hurricanes (20%), terrorism (19%), floods (9%), earthquakes (9%) and tornadoes (8%). Almost 60% of disasters reportedly occurred in the respondent's community compared to 40% occurring somewhere else. Over 90% of the disasters reportedly occurred in the U.S., which were unequally distributed between the South (46%), Northeast (26%), Midwest (17%) and Pacific (13%). Reported disaster dates ranged from 1914 to 2008. Thirty-three percent of all reported disasters affected finances, 28% affected property, 83% affected peace of mind, 36% affected trust in government and 15% affected health.

Conclusion: These findings expand our understanding of disasters and their impacts, which has implications for their study and management.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe who reported disaster experiences in the survey. Identify how disasters impacted people in the survey. Discuss the implications of these findings for both the research and disaster response communities.

Keywords: Disasters, Emergency

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have a Master of Science in Public Health with a specialization in Emergency Public Health, and a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics with a minor in Public Health from UCLA. I am currently a doctoral student in Community Health Sciences with a minor in Urban Planning at the UCLA School of Public Health. The research presented in this talk will be findings from my master's thesis, "Refining the Concept of Disaster through an Inductively-derived Typology." This research was derived from the National Survey on Disaster Experiences and Preparedness, a national household telephone survey of U.S. adults describing and predicting public preparedness, mitigation, and avoidance actions; intended actions; and relevant perceptions of major hazards. Other relevant and current research experience involves work on the California Survey of Household Earthquake Preparedness and Mitigation; an NSF-funded assessment of the public health impacts of Hurricane Katrina; and the Public Health Emergency Preparedness Community Outreach Project. My relevant professional experience includes work as a firefighter-emergency medical technician with response experience to disasters.
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.