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Addressing Gaps in Disaster Research: A New Approach to Overcome Barriers to Research in the Early Phase of Disasters
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
: 9:10 AM - 9:30 AM
Natural and man-made disasters may lead to environmental exposures that place response workers and affected communities at risk for adverse health effects. Efforts to study the health effects of disasters are often hampered by barriers to collecting questionnaire data, biological specimens, and environmental samples needed to characterize the health status of study populations and their exposures during the early phase of the disaster. Major barriers include the time required to develop research protocols and obtain scientific and regulatory approvals. This presentation describes a new research protocol developed by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) as part of a larger approach to reduce barriers to early-phase disaster research. The NIEHS has conducted research on the health effects of major disasters, including Hurricane Katrina, the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, and Hurricane Sandy. The NIEHS used experience gained from implementing these studies and feedback from other government agencies to develop a protocol that can be rapidly implemented for a wide variety of disasters and quickly amended to address unique research questions that arise in specific disasters. The protocol includes data and specimen collection plans that are broadly applicable to a wide range of disasters, as well as add-on modules that can be implemented on an as-needed basis to address specific questions that may emerge as disasters unfold. Further, we have sought regulatory approvals for the entire protocol that will allow for any combination of protocol modules to be implemented without pre-approval. A pre-approved, modular protocol that can be rapidly deployed across a range of disasters and later tailored to questions surrounding specific disasters is one of several key steps the NIEHS is taking to reduce barriers to disaster research. Upcoming pilot testing of the protocol, along with other components of our readiness plan, will help to further improve our approach.
Basic medical science applied in public health
Environmental health sciences
Occupational health and safety
Explain the features of a disaster research protocol that can be rapidly implemented in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.
Describe challenges of collecting questionnaire data and biomarkers of health status and exposures immediately after a disaster.
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I currently manage field operations for a large prospective cohort study examining the potential health effects among workers and volunteers who participated in the Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill clean-up effort and a registry and cohort of veterans involved in the first Gulf War. I am also the project manager for the Disaster Research project with 15+ years of experience coordinating public health research and leading emergency response teams.
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.