264526 Effect of mental health on disaster preparedness

Monday, October 29, 2012 : 10:50 AM - 11:10 AM

Lauren Clay, MPH , Disaster Research Center, University of Delaware, Newark, DE
James Goetschius, AICP , Disaster Research Center, University of Delaware, Newark, DE
James Kendra, PhD, CEM , Disaster Research Center, University of Delaware, Newark, DE
Mia Papas, PhD , Department of Behavioral Health and Nutrition, University of Delaware, Newark, DE
Introduction: Individuals with poor mental health are at increased risk of negative outcomes following disasters. This association may be due to a lack of preparedness. Disaster preparedness is central to improving health outcomes following disasters among vulnerable populations. We examined the relationship between mental health status and disaster preparedness among respondents to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey. Methods: Three states included the general preparedness and mental illness modules in 2007 and 2009. Preparedness was defined as having an evacuation plan, a 3-day supply of medication, and a summary measure of overall preparedness that included having food, water, radio, and flashlight. Mental health was assessed using standardized measures of non-specific serious psychological and frequent mental distress. Data were analyzed using SPSS 19.0, accounting for complex sampling design. Results: Serious psychological distress and frequent mental distress were associated with a lack of overall preparedness (OR = 1.48, 95% CI: 1.28, 1.7 and OR = 1.25, 95% CI: 1.14, 1.37, respectively), a 3-day supply of medication (OR = 1.51, 95% CI: 1.25, 1.83 and OR = 1.02, 95% CI: 0.88, 1.18, respectively), and an evacuation plan (OR = 1.13, 95% CI: 0.97, 1.32 and OR = 1.17, 95% CI: 1.06, 1.29, respectively). Conclusions: Poor mental health is associated with multiple dimensions of disaster preparedness in a national sample of adults. Public health and emergency management interventions need to focus on preparedness of individuals with poor mental health in order to improve outcomes in future disasters and public health emergencies.

Learning Areas:
Program planning
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Identify six components of household level general preparedness. Compare preparedness levels between those with poor mental health and those without. Discuss policy implications of the preparedness level for vulnerable populations.

Keywords: Disasters, Mental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have my Master of Public Health and currently completing my PhD in Disaster Science and Management. My current research focuses on disaster preparedness and recovery of vulnerable populations. I conduct this research as a Graduate Research Assistant at the Disaster Research Center at the University of Delaware.
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.