Article Index

Understanding Public Response to Increased Risk from Natural Hazards: Application of the Hazards Risk Communication Framework

Authors
R. Denise Blanchard Boehm
Issue
November 1998
Description
For the past four decades researchers in the field of natural hazards have studies extensively how people “hear” warning messages of potential natural disasters and then, eventually, how they “respond” by way of adopting preparation and mitigation measures. Until the 1980s, a single framework did not exist for understanding risk communication as an integrated process. Much of the early research on risk communication was piecemeal and descriptive, and consisted of exploring the details of communicating risk within the events of a particular disaster. The proliferation of research on risk communication over several decades, though, has resulted in the evolution of a general model of hazards risk management. This model presupposes that the process of risk communication in one whereby individuals: (1) hear a warning message; (2) understand its content; (3) internalize or believe the salience of its message; (4) confirm one’s interpretation with others; and (5) act or respond to its message to save one’s life and property. This paper applies the risk communication framework and its principles to a case study where probabilities were increased in 1990 of future earthquakes in the San Francisco Bay area. Following the scientific community’s announcement, a low-key warning was issued to approximately two million residents through a large-scale information campaign. This study demonstrates that the risk communication model is an invaluable tool for helping us to understand the behavior of individuals who must learn of and act upon warning information that could save their lives and property. Further, researchers are urged to find ways to adapt this risk communication model to other types of natural and human-made hazards.

Understanding the Message: Social and Cultural constraints To Interpreting Weather Generated Natural Hazards

Authors
David King
Issue
March 2004
Description
Globally there is an increase in the social and economic impacts of all natural hazards, and especially those that are generated by weather systems. Climate change is a part of this process, but it is most likely that long-term climate change will first become evident as an increase in natural disasters, especially flooding and drought. However, a major cause of increasing nautral disasters is the growth and relocation of population, concentrating into complex urban settlements that proliferate infrastructure and property in vulnerable floodplains and the coastal fringe. While Australia has experienced a decline in the loss of life from natural hazards, the loss to business, agriculture and the economy in general has increased exponentially. Weather generated natural disasters dominate the total disaster bill. Vulnerability to natural hazards may be reduced through hazard education and effective warnings. \r\nThe communication of weather information is inevitably a top down process. Understanding of information and in particular, warning s about hazardous events involves a public safety transfer of knowledge from highly specialized scientists through emergency managers, local politicians and the media, to every member of society. Research shows that selection, interpretation and expression of information and warnings occurs at institutional and societal levels. Both the media and the general public select, re-interpret, and weigh up information about weather and hazards, applying a complex set of attitudes, perceptions experience and misinformation to the initial message. An understanding of how people interpret the message is essential to the accuracy and safety of warnings and forecasts. Examples and case studies from post-disaster and behavioural research carried out by the Centre for Disaster Studies, and hazard events illustrate the issues of understanding the message.\r\n

Unidentified Bodies and Mass-Fatality Management in Haiti: A Case Study of the January 2010 Earthquake with a Cross-Cultural Comparison

Authors
David McEntire, Abdul-Akeem Sadiq and Kailash Gupta
Issue
November 2012
Description
The following paper examines the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti as a case study to better understand what happens to unidentified bodies in mass-fatality management. The paper explores the literature on mass-fatality management, discusses the context of Haiti and the impact of the earthquake in this country, mentions the methods undertaken for this study, and then outlines the key findings from this particular disaster. The paper compares preliminary conclusions in Haiti to other incidents in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, and concludes with a discussion of implications for research and practice.

Unpacking Long-term Disaster Recovery Processes: A Case Study of the Healthcare System in Montserrat, West Indies

Authors
V.L. Sword-Daniels, J. Twigg, T. Rossetto and D.M. Johnston
Issue
March 2016
Description
Long-term disaster recovery processes are poorly understood, yet there is a growing imperative to improve knowledge of their complexity and timeframes to inform policy and post-disaster decision-making. This empirical study explores post-disaster change and recovery processes for the healthcare system on the island of Montserrat, West Indies. Taking a systems approach, we adopt a qualitative case study methodology to explore post-disaster changes over an extended timeframe (1995-2012). We identify many different aspects of change, which lends a new perspective on post-disaster change types for complex systems, and an alternative classification for analysis of their recovery. Recovery of the healthcare system is ongoing. We find that recovery is not a uniform process. Different elements of the system show signs of recovery at different times. This exploratory study documents the complex and long-term nature of disaster recovery in this context, which brings new understanding of change and recovery processes and raises important considerations for future studies.

Un-Therapeutic communities: A Cross-National Analysis of Post-Disaster Political Unrest

Authors
A. Cooper Drury, Richard Stuart Olson
Issue
August 1997
Description
A recurring question in the study of disaster effects involves political instability. A relationship has been posited between disasters and various forms of political unrest, and case evidence exists to support the contention. Statistical testing, however, has been lacking. A pilot study, this paper integrates a worldwide-disaster database with a political-instability database and reports time-series cross-section (pooled time-series) findings for 12 countries struck by rapid-onset natural disaster between 1966 and 1980. The regression results, both strong and significant, indicate a positive relationship between disaster severity and political unrest. The unrest, however, can be dampened if not eliminated by governmental repression, the implications of which are most disturbing.

Using A Disaster Preparedness Triangle Framework To Link Disaster Preparedness To Pandemic Outcomes

Authors
Subhashree Sundar, Jeff K. Stratman, and Krishna M. Sundar
Issue
November 2017
Description
In order to demonstrate that disaster preparedness is associated with improved outcomes in pandemics, we use secondary source mortality data from the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic and correlate that to individual U.S. states’ disaster preparedness data based upon the TFAH (Trust for America’s Health) 2009 report. To understand impact of different disaster preparedness parameters, we categorize them into sub-categories of detection, inventory and capacity. Our analyses using the proposed framework show that overall disaster preparedness for each US state was associated with reduced H1N1-related mortality attesting to the benefits of preparedness for unpredictable events like influenza pandemics. Furthermore, elements of the disaster preparedness triangle were found to be strong predictors of pandemic mortality, indicating that investments made towards disaster preparation are in the best interests of society.

Using the Bioecological Theory of Human Behavior to Link Homeowners to Hurricane: Preparedness in the Southeast United States

Authors
Charles Sewell, Randall Cantrell and Michael Spranger
Issue
November 2017
Description
More than a decade passed without a major hurricane reaching landfall in the US until the unfortunate events resulting from Hurricane Harvey in August 2017 (which is when this article was in final review). This suggests homeowners could have been feeling a false sense of security regarding hurricane preparedness. This study provides information about which populations might benefit from outreach programs, such as cooperative extension, designed to increase homeowner understanding of aid available to them when and if needed. Increasing hurricane preparedness in this way enables efficient distribution of resources because homeowners are more informed about how and where to obtain assistance. Relationships were assessed between homeowners’ location, education, income, age, presence of minors in the home, tenure within the community, and two measures developed by this study: the Hurricane-Preparedness Knowledge Scale and the Trust in Support Entities Scale. Findings showed that those having lived within the community longer were more interested in increasing their knowledge about hurricane preparedness. Respondents in Georgia were least interested in obtaining more knowledge about hurricane preparedness, but this was the one region where the study extended farthest inland from the coast. However, homeowners living in Georgia were less trusting of support entities (i.e., FEMA, Red Cross, county emergency management, and local governments) than their southern bordering states—a finding that should not be affected by proximity to the coast. Irrespective of Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana showed no less trust in support entities than any other state throughout the area studied. Also, those with advance levels of formal education were less trusting in support entities than those with less education.

Utilising Participatory Research Techniques For Community-Based Disaster Risk Assessment

Authors
Dewald Van Niekerk and Elrista Annandale
Issue
August 2013
Description
Community-based disaster risk assessment yields the best results and most trustworthy primary data in understanding the disaster risk that communities face. Yet, most of the disaster risk assessments undertaken within South Africa exhibit very little evidence of community-based and participatory approaches. Participatory research techniques and capacity development interventions were used in a community-based disaster risk assessment project covering 22 communities in the North-West Province of South Africa. This article describes the methodology developed, as well as the resulting findings of one of these at-risk communities. The robust research approach proved to be reliable, valid, and trustworthy—and, at the same time, ensured direct community participation. A number of participatory research techniques such as transect walks, community workshops, and participatory GIS were employed. The research found that the knowledge in local communities is extremely reliable in the development of their disaster risk profile, and can mostly be unlocked through participatory methods.

Vandalism-Militancy Relationship: The Influence of Risk Perception and Moral Disengagement

Authors
Oluwasoye P. Mafimisebi and Sara Thorne
Issue
November 2017
Description
Both risk perception and moral disengagement underpin crisis intensification, and influence risk behaviours. This research, examines whether risk perception and moral disengagement mechanisms influence vandalism and militancy (terrorism), and if these mechanisms can provide alternative strategies for managing unconventional mass emergencies and disasters. This paper will also clarify and discuss the relevance of the concepts: moral disengagement, moral evaluation, and social trust. The influence and implications of risk perception and moral disengagement on crisis management on a case study of the vandalism and militant incidents that have occurred Niger Delta region over the last decade are discussed. Specifically, this investigation demonstrates that there are potential gains in crisis management, when crisis dimensions, morality issues, and risk perception are used to help anchor strategic options during crises. The present study found that people are more likely to disengage from moral conducts when the mechanisms of moral evaluation and disengagement are routinely experienced. In doing so, people become skilled at neutralising morally questionable behaviours and activities such as vandalism.

Vicarious Trauma in Aid Workers Following the World Trade Center Attack In 2001

Authors
Ellen Brickman, Chris O Sullivan, Heike Thiel de Bocanegra
Issue
March 2004
Description
This study investigated the prevalence of secondary trauma in volunteers who were involved in the emergency response after the World Trade Center (WTC) attack. Secondary or vicarious trauma is defined as therapists’ emotional reactions to their clients’ traumatic material. A total of 163 caseworkers, non-clinicians involved in addressing victims’ concrete needs, participated in a semi-structured phone interview that assessed their background and volunteer experience and a mailed survey that assessed their psychological status. Outcome data were the PTSD checklist (PCL) and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). Responses identified two distinct categories of volunteers: volunteers from out of town tended to be older, more experienced in disaster relief work, and had less levels of exposure to the attack than volunteers from the New York area. Most volunteers found the experience rewarding and enriching. However, 7.4% of the sample met diagnostic criteria for PTSD and fifth had BDI scores indicating moderate to severe depression. Prior trauma, exposure to the event, self-reported unmet needs, and beginning or increasing substance use after 9/11 were significantly associated with post-traumatic stress symptoms and depression. Post-traumatic stress and depression symptoms were negatively correlated with age. Having had previous disaster experience and living with a partner appeared to have a protective effect on mental health status. In conclusion, relief agencies should pay particular attention to providing support for volunteers with prior traumatic experiences. Furthermore, they should ensure ongoing support after the end of the relief work