Research on disasters is problematic. Disasters, by nature, are intermittent and arrive unexpectedly, although in some cases with some warning. They require massive recovery efforts which do not logistically lend themselves to the research process. The emotions, or masking of them, that occur during and after disasters, often result in displacement. Researchers, who can be perceived as not “pitching in to help” can meet resistance from both the individuals who are the target of inquiry or the organizations who are involved in interventions to be evaluated. The literature on social work disaster research, or on disaster research in general, reflects the paucity of research in this area. This focus in social work research on disasters relates to their impact, management, and recovery stages. Elements associated with the disaster management process such as post trauma stress reactions, resilience, crisis intervention models, community coordination and prevention planning are components of other precipitating stressors. However, disasters, by nature, involve a magnitude of impact, as well as a large number of victims and survivors, so that attention to this unique order of magnitude is in itself an element of interventions and research about them.

There are many kinds of disasters – both natural, and mankind-induced: floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, chemical spills, airline crashes and terroristic attacks. They happen all over the world, and often in areas where service infrastructure is minimal, with disaster response resources needing to be imported. Their magnitude requires the coordination of public and private sector service providers in ways which require that planning and procedures be developed in preparation for the eventual, as well as the real. Services are usually delivered by a combination of professionals, volunteers, and those who are directly impacted by the disaster who marshal their social sensibilities to aid their neighbors while helping themselves.

A review of the selected references below provides a perspective on the evolution of disaster research. Only recently, but rarely, are quantitative theory-testing studies reported. Much of the literature concerns case studies, or model descriptions, or auto-ethnographic expressions of personal reactions to lived-through disasters. Early efforts to systematize knowledge about disaster management begin with the sharing of one’s personal experiences, actions, and feelings, thus informing the social work value of self-awareness in service delivery. Later efforts describe models of infrastructure development and the systematization of disaster management services. Still more recent research has focused on post-disaster symptomatology, recovery, and resilience. Literature about disasters also reflects the global nature of disasters – which occur throughout the world and often involve citizens of several countries, as well as reflecting the increasing international awareness of the similarities of such experiences for people wherever they live.

Two special journal issues have focused on disasters:

  • 2003 Psychoanalytic-Social-Work , volume10
  • 1996 Journal of Social Service Research , volume 22.

Several chapters of Francis Turner’s (1995). Differential diagnosis and treatment in social work (4 th ed.) . New York : Free Press, address social workers’ roles in assisting with the psychosocial sequelae of large public disasters. Included are:

  • “The Mexico City Earthquake Disaster” by Corinne L. Dufka
  • “Growing Up Under the Mushroom Cloud” by Burt Schachter
  • “Train Crash” by Leona Grossman

http://search.epnet.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=cookie,ip,url,uid&db=psyh&an=1995-98626-008 The following references and abstracts were selected to represent the range of research related to social work practice.


Lessons learned on forced relocation of older adults: the impact of Hurricane Andrew on health, mental health, and social support of public housing residents. 2003
Sanders-S; Bowie-S.L; Bowie-Y.D. Journal-of-Gerontological-Social-Work . 40(4): 23-35,.
This article is an exploratory-descriptive study of older adult public housing residents who were forcibly relocated from their homes when Hurricane Andrew struck Miami-Dade County in 1992. The subjects were all African Americans (N = 58) with a mean age of 67 years (S.D. = 9.8) who lived in economically depressed, low-income communities. Almost 70% were females. The subjects suffered from an array of physical and mental health maladies that were exacerbated when they were uprooted from key support systems, including families, social services, and health care facilities they depended on. A variety of complaints surfaced about their new living arrangements and almost 70% expressed a desire to return to their previous homes after long-term structural repairs were complete. Implications are discussed regarding the need for pre-emptive “elder-sensitive” strategic planning, the role of Public Housing Authorities in properly caring for older adults before and after a hurricane or other natural disaster, the need for appropriate training of public housing property managers, and the key role of social workers during post-disaster interventions with older adults and their families.

An empirical study into the psychosocial reactions of staff working as helpers to those affected in the aftermath of two traumatic incidents. 2003
Gibson-M; Iwaniec-D. The-British-Journal-of-Social-Work . 33(7): 851-870, Oct.
This paper addresses the outcome of the first empirical study on the psychosocial impact on four groups of professional staff involved as helpers in the aftermath of two major incidents. The two incidents selected were the Kegworth Air disaster that occurred in the East Midlands area of England in 1989 and a terrorist bombing on the Shankill Road , Belfast , Northern Ireland in 1993. The four groups of staff chosen for the research, both in England and Northern Ireland , were social workers, ambulance personnel, accident and emergency nurses, and clergy. The policy and practice implication of the study were used to develop a training program for those who have to cope with trauma in their workplace. The need for such training was based on the hypothesis that pre-training will help to ameliorate any negative reactions that may be experienced by the helpers. The results from both incidents were compared to highlight the impact of the work on helpers working with victims from a single incident trauma and in a situation where there was multiple incident traumatization.

Traumaphobia: confronting personal and professional anxiety . 2003
Fox-R . Psychoanalytic-Social-Work . 10(1): 43-55,.
This article reflects the author’s personal and professional dislocation resulting from the World Trade Center disaster. Through the act of writing and an active reading of the professional literature, he attempts to re-establish equilibrium to restore confidence, and to rekindle a sense of purpose and meaning in the helping process, both for himself and for the reader. Examined is the literature related to memory and its connection to the phenomena of trauma, “psychache,” compassion fatigue, vicarious traumatization, counter-transference, and burnout. It concludes with guidelines for “being present” and for self-care. (This is one of six articles in this special issue on the trauma of September 11th and its aftermath.).

Shared trauma: group reflections on the September 11th disaster . 2003
Tosone-C; Bialkin-L; Campbell-M; Charters-M; Gieri-K; Gross-S; Grounds-C; Johnson-K; Kitson-D; Lanzo-S; Lee-M; Martinez-A; Martinez-M.M; Milich-J; Riofrio-A; Rosenblatt-L; Sandler-J; Scali-M; Spiro-M; Stefan-A. Psychoanalytic-Social-Work . 10(1): 57-78,.

This article describes the unique collective reflections of MSW students enrolled in the senior author’s “Clinical Practice with Groups” course when the September 11th tragedy occurred. The instructor and many of the students, due to the proximity of the school to the disaster site, were first-hand witnesses to the event. The article addresses the student clinicians’ initial reactions to the tragedy, as well as their later realizations that their personal and professional lives would be permanently altered by the experience. The unusual opportunity for growth and the implications for clinical practice are also considered in the context of professional literature on the topic of secondary trauma. (This is one of six articles in this special issue on the trauma of September 11th and its aftermath.)

Preventable tragedies: heat disaster and the elderly. 2002
Thomas-N.D; Soliman-H. Journal-of-Gerontological-Social-Work . 38(4): 53-66,.
This study examines the socioeconomic, cultural and atmospheric factors that contribute to deaths in the elderly population due to heat wave disasters. The framework for this study is the Vulnerability Perspective (Blaikie, Cannon, Davis & Wisner, 1994) and the Hazard Coping Theory (Burton, Kates & White, 1978). Even though it is possible to predict heat waves better than many other natural disasters the message does not always reach the elderly and their caregivers who themselves may be of advanced age and isolated. The model of the Philadelphia , PA Hot Weather-Health Watch/Warning System is also discussed.

Psychiatric disorders among victims of a courthouse shooting spree: a three-year follow-up study. 2002
Johnson SD ; North CS; Smith EM.. Community mental health journal Jun; 38 (3), pp. 181-94; discussion 195-7.
This study examined the longitudinal course of psychiatric sequelae of a mass shooting incident at a courthouse. A sample of 80 individuals was examined 6-8 weeks after the incident and 77 of these were reassessed one and three years later using the Diagnostic Interview Schedule/Disaster Supplement. Only 5% of the study sample met criteria for PTSD after this incident. Universal distress, however, was evident as 96% of the respondents reported PTSD symptoms and 75% described the incident as “very upsetting.” The need for intervention among symptomatic individuals not meeting diagnostic criteria should not be discounted as subdiagnostic distress may warrantspecific intervention.

Coping, Functioning, and Adjustment of Rescue Workers After the Oklahoma City Bombing. 2002

North, Carol S., Tivis, Laura, McMillen, J. Curtis, et al.. Journal of Traumatic Stress ; Jun, Vol. 15 Issue 3, p171, 5p.

Studies have not previously considered postdisaster adjustment in the context of psychiatric disorders. After the Oklahoma City bombing, a volunteer sample of 181 firefighters who served as rescue and recovery workers was assessed with a structured diagnostic interview. The firefighters had relatively low rates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and described little functional impairment, positive social adjustment, and high job satisfaction. PTSD was associated with reduced job satisfaction and functional impairment, providing diagnostic validity. Turning to social supports, seeking mental health treatment, and taking medication were not widely prevalent coping responses. Postdisaster alcohol use disorders and drinking to cope were significantly associated with indicators of poorer functioning. Surveillance for problem drinking after disaster exposure may identify useful directions for intervention. http://search.epnet.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=cookie,ip,url,uid&db=pbh&an=11308763

Organizational involvement in disasters: a case study of the Salvation Army. 2002.
Dalberg-D. Social-Work-and-Christianity . 29(2): 103-121, Summer
This article summarizes the history of the Salvation Army’s involvement in disasters. The role it played in the World Trade Center Disaster and other disasters is described. Organizational principles that guide the involvement and lessons learned during the 102 years of involvement in disasters are provided.

Social work research on disasters in the aftermath of the September 11 tragedy: reflections from New York City . 2002.
Padgett-D.K. Social-Work-Research . 26(3): 185-192, Sept.
This report, coming from close to Ground Zero, cannot fully represent the diverse thoughts and experiences of social work researchers in New York City (much less those residing in other parts of the country or the world). The report may stimulate further discussion about what types of interventions and support are best suited to the needs that inevitably arise after a disaster and how research is vital to our understanding of these needs and their amelioration. Although many of the topics discussed here pre-date September 11, the scope of its tragic impact has compelled many in the helping professions to rethink their research agendas with greater urgency. Social work–a profession that was vitally involved in responding to the devastating crisis of September 11–is no exception.

Vicarious stress: patterns of disturbance and use of mental health services by those indirectly affected by the Oklahoma City bombing. 2001.
Sprang G. Psychological reports Oct; 89 (2), pp. 331-8.
This study explored the intermediate psychological effects of terrorism on adults not directly affected by the Oklahoma City bombing by examining the course of PTSD and subthreshold PTSD symptoms over time and whether treatment affected this course. The respondents were interviewed at 3-mo. intervals for 18 mo. following an initial 6-mo. survey. Analysis suggested avoidance, re-experiencing, and increased arousal symptoms in this population were limited over time, declining with or without treatment between 6 and 9 mo. Conversely, victimization symptoms remained high without mental health intervention for the first year after the disaster. The study also examined the nature and occurrence of comorbidity in groups seeking and not seeking treatment.

Counselors’ satisfaction with disaster training: the development of an index.
Soliman-H.H; Rasquinha-S; Burkett-A; Shelton-S. Journal-of-Social-Service-Research . 27(4): 61-78, 2001.
This article reports findings on the development of an index that measures outreach counselors’ satisfaction with a disaster training program. Data were collected from a sample of 64 counselors who were recruited and trained to provide mental health services to survivors of the Great Flood of 1993. Factor analyses were used to identify a 15-item index. These items represent three factors which explained 80.6% of the variance among the items. The resulting Disaster Training Evaluation Index (DTE-1) has excellent reliability estimates (Alpha = .95). The DTE-1 represents an important step in filling the need for measurement instruments that evaluate disaster training programs.

Prevalence of traumatic events and PTSD symptomatology among a selected sample of undergraduate students. 2001
Kirk-A; Dollar-S.C. Journal-of-Social-Work-in-Disability-and-Rehabilitation. 1(1): 53-65,
University faculty and mental health counselors often work with students in distress which may be related to their experiences with traumatic accidents, interpersonal violence, or natural disaster. Traumatic events can have long-lasting effects, which include somatic complaints, substance abuse, “flashbacks,” and a reduction in memory and recall. The purpose of this study is to identify the number, types and severity of traumatic events that occur among a student sample from three academic departments (Sociology and Criminal Justice, Social Work, and Human Development) at a rural southern university. The sample of 234 undergraduate students confirmed previous research regarding the high number of self-reported traumas among college students. The study found that college-aged women are much more likely than men to report trauma and to seek counseling and treatment for its effects. Significant differences were noted in distributional patterns for men and women when reporting exposure to stressful events. The study’s findings serve as an important indicator of the need for prevention, early recognition, and treatment for trauma victims. Suggestions are also provided to assist administrators in implementing the appropriate workplace and academic accommodations for PTSD victims under the Americans with disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504).

The American Red Cross Disaster Mental Health Services: Development of a Cooperative, Single Function, Multidisciplinary Service. 2000
Weaver, John D., Dingman, Robert L., Morgan, Jane, Hong, Barry A., North, Carol S.. Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research ; Aug, Vol. 27 Issue 3, p314, 7p.
Not until 1989 did the Red Cross officially recognize a need for a systematic and organized plan for the mental health needs of disaster survivors. Over the next decade, the Red Cross Disaster Mental Health Services program has developed and evolved to assist both disaster victims and the Red Cross workers who serve them to cope with the overwhelming stresses encountered by both groups in the aftermath of disasters. The Red Cross now coordinates a large and diverse group of mental health professionals from fields of psychology, psychiatry, nursing, social work, marriage and family therapy, and counseling who work together cooperatively. Cross-disciplinary conflicts are minimized by the Red Cross’ generic approach to the various mental health professional specialties as functionally interchangeable in performing Red Cross duties. This article reviews the development of this process and describes one local Red Cross chapter’s early experience as part of this effort. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

What parts of PTSD are normal: intrusion, avoidance, or arousal? 2000.
McMillen JC; North CS; Smith EM, Journal of traumatic stress Jan; 13 (1),pp. 57-75.
The incidence and comorbidity of posttraumatic stressdisorder (PTSD) are addressed in a study of 130 Northridge , California , earthquake survivors interviewed 3 months post-disaster. Only 13% of the sample met full PTSD criteria, but 48% met both the re-experiencing and the arousal symptom criteria, without meeting the avoidance and numbing symptom criterion. Psychiatric comorbidity was associated mostly with avoidance and numbing symptoms. For moderately severe traumatic events, re-experiencing and arousal symptoms may be the most “normal,” and survivors with a history of psychiatric problems may be those most likely to develop full PTSD. A system that considers people who meet all three symptom criteria to have a psychiatric disorder yet recognizes the distress of other symptomatic survivors may best serve traumatized populations.

Identifying human remains following an air disaster: the role of social work. 2000.
Newhill CE; Social work in health care [Soc Work Health Care] 2000; 31 (4), pp. 85-105.
An area of disaster response with high risk of inducing trauma in response workers is recovering and identifying human remains. Following a review of the literature addressing the significant stressors associated with handling dead bodies, we present a case study which describes professional social work intervention and support to disaster response workers and volunteers assigned to the morgue following a major air disaster. A primary task was helping workers cope with the unique stresses associated with recovering dead bodies. Opportunities for social workers to use their professional skills for disaster response work is discussed along with recommendations for social work education.

Analysing forms of vulnerability in a disaster. 2000.
Parasuraman-S; Acharya-N. Indian-Journal-of-Social-Work . 61(4): 581-597, Oct.
This paper attempts to highlight the plurality of vulnerability in an affected community. It aims to suggest that the needs of each affected group differ and should accordingly be addressed. The paper is divided into three sections. The first section briefly reflects on the intertwining of disasters with vulnerability and entitlement systems. The second section draws upon a case study of the earthquake in the Osmanabad and Latur districts of Maharashtra to understand the social processes underway in the aftermath and their impact on different vulnerable groups’ entitlement systems; and illustrates from available data, differential vulnerabiltiy faced by different groups. The last section generates indicators of vulnerability in a disaster situation. (This is one of nine articles in this special issue on mental health consequences of disasters.).

Depression among victims of south Mississippi ‘s methyl parathion disaster. 2000
Rehner-T.A; Kolbo-J.R; Trump-R; Smith-C; Reid-D. Health-and-Social-Work . 25(1): 33-40, Feb..
Human-induced disasters have long been considered responsible for a wide array of physiological, psychological, and economic distress. This study examined depressive symptoms among victims of south Mississippi ‘s methyl parathion disaster. Results indicated that irrespective of the level of methyl parathion contamination in respondents’ dwellings, more than half the victims interviewed reported depressive symptoms at levels suggesting probable clinical depression. Those at greater risk of depressive symptoms were people who had been exposed to the neurotoxin for the longest period of time, among whom there was an overrepresentation of women and African Americans. Despite high statistical levels of depression, few victims used mental health services. Implications for social work’s response to human -induced disasters are provided.

Disaster outreach service provision: the development of an index. 1999
Poulin-J; Soliman-H.H. Journal-of-Social-Service-Research . 25(4): 77-92,.
This article reports preliminary findings on the development of an index that measures outreach workers’ perceptions of the provision of services to survivors of natural disasters. Data were collected from a sample of 64 outreach counselors who worked for Project Recovery during the Great Flood of 1993 along the Mississippi River in Illinois . Factor analyses were used to identify a 15-item index. The 15 items represent five factors that explained 82.2% of the variance among the items. The resulting Disaster Outreach Service Provision (DSP) Index has acceptable reliability estimates (Alpha = .83) and appears normally distributed. The index is an important step in filling the need for measurement instruments designed specifically for use in natural disasters. Such instruments can be used to evaluate the provision of disaster relief services and to conduct disaster related research.

Debriefing of American Red Cross personnel: pilot study on participants’ evaluations and case examples from the 1994 Los Angeles earthquake relief operation. 1998.
Armstrong K; Zatzick D; Metzler T; Weiss DS; Marmar CR; Garma S; Ronfeldt H; Roepke L. Social work in health care 27 (1), pp. 33-50.
The Multiple Stressor Debriefing (MSD) model was used to debrief 112 American Red Cross workers individually or in groups after their participation in the 1994 Los Angeles earthquake relief effort. Two composite case examples are presented that illustrate individual and group debriefings using the MSD model. A questionnaire which evaluated workers’ experience of debriefing, was completed by 95 workers. Results indicated that workers evaluated the debriefings in which they participated positively. In addition, as participant to facilitator ratio increased, workers shared less of their feelings and reactions about the disaster relief operation. These findings, as well as more specific issues about debriefing, are discussed.

Setting the boundary of an interorganizational network: an application.
Murty-S.A. School of Social Work . Journal-of-Social-Service-Research . 24(2/3): 67-82, 1998.
A method for setting the boundary of an interorganizational network is described. This method is then applied to an interorganizational network for disaster services. The results show that the method was successful at identifying a larger and more varied network membership than would have been identified using other methods. Further research should apply the method to various types of service networks in various settings.

Perceived benefit and mental health after three types of disaster. 1997
McMillen JC; Smith EM; Fisher RH. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology Oct; 65 (5), pp. 733-9.
The study of growth and perceived benefit aftertraumatic events has been hailed as one of the most promising directions for stress research. This research, however, has been limited by several methodological limitations. These limitations are addressed in this prospective study, which examines perceived benefit and mental health adjustment after 3 different types of disaster. Survivors of a tornado in Madison, Florida, had the highest rates of perceived benefit, followed by survivors of a mass killing in Killeen, Texas, and survivors of a plane crash in Indianapolis, Indiana. Perceived benefit 4-6 weeks postdisaster predicted posttraumatic stress disorder 3 years later. Perceived benefit moderated the effect of severity of disaster exposure on mental health diagnosis change over time. Without perceived benefit, as exposure severity increased, the amount of recovery decreased. If benefit was perceived, as exposure severity increased, the amount of recovery increased. Implications for clinical interventions and future research are discussed.

A middle class response to disaster: FEMA’s policies and problems. 1997.
Cherry-A.L; Cherry-M.E. Journal-of-Social-Service-Research . 23(1): 71-87,
Specific Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA) policies and procedures impacted vulnerable populations both positively and negatively after Hurricane Andrew. Findings from 130 structured interviews with a randomized sample of victims suggest that in many cases FEMA policies were unclear, poorly explained, too rigid, and required a high level of middle-class financial management skills to comply with eligibility requirements. These problems resulted in multi-generational families living together in one dwelling, and applicants from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds obtaining fewer services than they were entitled to receive. The outcome of the legal action (in which this study was used as evidence) that resulted in reparations to 21,000 Hurricane Andrew applicants and changes made in FEMA policies and procedures are discussed.

Oklahoma City : the storying of a disaster. 1996.
Levine-J.E. Smith-College-Studies-in-Social-Work . 67(1): 21-38, Nov.
The bombing in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995 was a massive assault on the meaning-making of survivors and community members. Utilizing a social constructionist perspective, this article explores the evolution of the community’s social narrative as it shifted in the immediate wake of the blast to a new framework for understanding the event three months later. It is speculated that the community’s storying of the bombing was initially centered on issues of action and recovery in order to restore civil order. Only after the departure of the Red Cross, which contributed to the formation of this communal narrative, did traditional crisis notions concerning phases of grief begin to appear in the local Oklahoma City newspaper. In addition, individual stories that did not conform to the larger understanding of events were conferred less authority than those in accordance with the dominant narrative.

Geographic and social distance during emergencies: A path model of interorganizational links. 1996
Zakour, Michael J. Social Work Research ; Mar, Vol. 20 Issue 1, p19, 11p, 3.
This article focuses on disaster relief which is widely accepted as a social welfare function. Volunteers from social services organizations are crucial to relief efforts, particularly because they are mobilized shortly after a disaster strikes and often well before large government organizations can respond. However, social and geographic barriers to links among volunteer organizations can reduce the effectiveness of the relief effort. Greater numbers of cooperative links are associated with increased coordination of the network of relief organizations, and this coordination enhances the effectiveness of the disaster response. Coordination also ensures that the people most affected by the disaster receive relief services. Of particular importance to social work, cooperative links can connect otherwise isolated groups to network resources. Volunteer organizations are formed to further the common interests of nonsalaried members. Disaster volunteerism and network coordination are particularly important to social work because of the profession’s concern with crisis situations.

Predictors of rural community survival after natural disaster: Implications for social work practice. 1996
Sundet, Paul, Mermelstein, Joanne, Journal of Social Service Research , Vol 22(1-2),. pp. 57-70.
Examined why some survived the Great Flood of 1993 in the midwest and others did not and the relationship of those outcomes to classic crisis intervention theory. Qualitative case investigations were conducted from 8 severely impacted river towns in Missouri. Graduate social work students began on-site data gathering approximately 7 wks after the flood’s initial strike in the state. Outcomes for each community were classified as danger or opportunity crisis resolutions. Results indicate specific, pre-disaster community characteristics were associated with post-disaster survival or failure. Among demographic variables, only the poverty rate appeared to have a strong association with outcome. Contrary to expectations, a vibrant economy was not a predictor of community survival. Communication skills, were invaluable aids in survival. Implications for rural social work practice in terms of application to crisis intervention are presented. http://search.epnet.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=cookie,ip,url,uid&db=psyh&an=1997-07622-001

Disaster research in social work. 1996.
Zakour-M.J. Journal-of-Social-Service-Research . 22(1/2): 7-25,
Disaster research in social work has deep roots in the profession’s history of disaster relief, social work’s mission to create resources and make them accessible to people, and the profession’s service to vulnerable populations. Social workers have important and unique contributions to make to disaster research through their expertise in ecological approaches, prevention, stress and coping, and promoting change in micro and macro systems. Disaster research in social work borrows primarily from psychology and sociology, and is conducted in clinical, organizational, and community contexts. Further social work research on disaster promises improved theory, measurement, and practice in situations of collective stress.

Predictors of rural community survival after natural disaster: implications for social work practice.
Sundet-P; Mermelstein-J. Journal-of-Social-Service-Research . 22(1/2): 57-70, 1996.
The Great Flood of 1993 not only devastated much of the midwest, it profoundly changed the social fabric of hundreds of river communities. Why some survived and others did not and the relationship of those outcomes to classic crisis intervention theory is the subject of this year-long qualitative study of eight representative Missouri towns.

Research as social action in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew.
Cherry-A.L; Cherry-M.E. Journal-of-Social-Service-Research . 22(1/2): 71-87, 1996.
A study conducted 14 months after Hurricane Andrew examined the long term impact of this natural disaster on the homeless in the hardest hit areas of South Florida . The effects of a natural disaster on the homeless has not been studied in the past. In addition, this study is presented to illustrate a model of social action research. The foundations for the principles of this model are rooted in the best scientific and social justice traditions. The principles are introduced and described using research methodologies that were used in this disaster study. How the findings contributed to changes in policy, procedure, and practice are highlighted.

Community responses to chronic technological disaster: the case of the Pigeon River . 1996. Soliman-H.H. Journal-of-Social-Service-Research. 22(1/2): 89-107.
A case study method was used to examine factors that contribute to community response to chronic technological disaster and to consider the dynamics that evolve within these communities. The Social Process Model (Edelstein, 1988) provided a theoretical framework for the study. Findings provided evidence of multiplicity of impacts regarding the pollution of water resources. Factors influencing community response include history, environmental awareness, economics, and community participation. Considering the longevity of disaster, communities may be forced to try different strategies to minimize its impacts. Community activism represents the most significant strategy in responding to the disaster.

Inter-agency collaboration and hazards education in American communities. 1996
Faupel-C.E; Kartez-J. Journal-of-Social-Service-Research . 22(1/2): 131-49,.
There is a growing literature on hazards education and its effectiveness in prompting appropriate mitigation, preparedness and response activities on the part of individuals and families. There has been virtually nothing written, however, on what factors tend to account for such hazards education activities in the first place. Factors that may account for varying levels of hazards education activities, such as prior disaster experience, hazards risk, and coordination between emergency management and planning offices, are examined in three separate multiple regression analyses. Generally, the study found that (1) the frequency of engaging in oral and written hazards education activities is significantly affected only by the level of preparedness activities on the part of emergency managers that involve some sort of exchange with other city agencies; (2) the frequency of conducting hazards education workshops is affected by the level of inter-agency preparedness efforts (above), the breadth of hazards risks confronted by a community, and by the frequency of interaction between emergency managers and city planners; and (3) the breadth of hazards education audiences is also significantly affected by the level of interagency preparedness efforts, the breadth of hazards risks, and the frequency of interaction between emergency managers and city planners. Policy implications, particularly as they relate to social service delivery organizations, are also discussed.

Rural communities’ responses to the Great Flood of 1993: a tale of two cities. 1995.
Soliman-H.H. Human-Services-in-the-Rural-Environment . 19(1): 36-41, Spring/Summer
Natural disasters challenge social development of rural communities. This study examines coping strategies of two communities and the factors that impaired or fostered purposeful adjustment to the Great Flood of 1993 in the Mississippi Valley . The researcher used field observation, in-depth interviews, and review of records in collecting data from two flooded communities in Southern Illinois . The existence of conflict within the community may hinder efforts to cope with the impact of a natural disaster. The study found that community action is an essential component of the recovery and change processes.

Process following disaster work.
Nursten-J. Journal-of-Social-Work-Practice . 6(2): 151-58, Autumn 1992.
This paper is a narrative account of the shifts and changes that take place in planning research. The intention was to follow-up a group who had been seen by social workers from the Hungerford Family Help Unit in 1987 after shootings that killed, bereaved, and injured several adults and children. The problems of mounting such a study are discussed and the focus changes from those who were helped, to the helpers. Methods are put forward to identify forms of support needed to cope with the stress of disaster work. Finally, the need for support is emphasized, being of value to practitioners and a means of enabling them to continue in practice.

Flood disaster experience: a six-months perspective.
Jago-E. Australian-Social-Work . 44(4): 43-52, Dec. 1991.
Currently there appears to be a spate of world, national, and local disasters. Always there is concern, not only about how to manage the immediate emergency, but how to facilitate the long-term recovery period. This paper presents a six-months perspective of a particular disaster and recovery period, based on the experiences of a recovery worker. The study emphasizes the importance of routine training for workers in organizations who may be called upon in a disaster. The study notes that because of the unique situation in every disaster, decision making on recovery structures and processes needs to remain invested in the local community, with assistance from external resources. Other suggestions are made for consideration in the continuing building of recovery theory. Finally, it underlines the importance of the social work role in most aspects of disaster recovery work, and the need to prepare not only undergraduates, but professional workers, for this role.

Pediatric Critical Care Social Work: Interventions With a Special Plane Crash Survivor . 1990 Sefansky, Susan. Health & Social Work; Aug, Vol. 15 Issue 3, p215, 6p
This article discusses the areas of social work practice that were necessary in the author’s work with the family of the survivor of the Northwest Airlines Flight 255 plane crash in August 1987. A crisis does not necessarily cause a pathological reaction, Sometimes, like in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, the problem situation is so acutely stressful that the existence of a crisis can be considered highly probable. Intervention in a crisis situation has many components. It is one form of the problem solving approach. The goal of crisis intervention is to restore the client to a precise level of functioning. This goal, unlike that of psychotherapy is limited. Tasks have to be accomplished and plans have to be made for the future. A crisis state lasts no longer than 6 weeks before equilibrium is restored, however, actually working through to a resolution may take much longer. Disaster situations are ordinary events (in this case, a plane trip) rendered extraordinary (by the crash), involving a mass of people. The impact of disaster situations is unclear because it involves collective as well as individual hardship and loss.

The Mexico City earthquake disaster. 1988.
Dufka-C-L. Social-Casework . 69(3): 162-70, Mar.
A study describes work with victims of the September 1985 earthquake disaster in Mexico City . Interviews with victims and families revealed that crisis response patterns differed with respect to age and that past losses and preexisting psychosocial problems affected responses to the crisis. Treatment tasks in interventions with the majority of the victims were (1) helping the client express his or her feelings, (2) communicating a sense of hope, and (3) educating the client on aspects of human response to crisis.

A comprehensive program for postdisaster counseling. 1986
Seroka-C-M; Knapp-C; Knight-S. Social-Casework:-The-Journal-of-Contemporary-Social-Work. 67(1): 37-44.
The purpose of a disaster relief project was to provide psychological counseling for tornado victims. Services were planned and implemented for victims of all ages, from preschoolers to senior citizens, with special emphasis on school-age children and their families. Counseling services emphasized creative outreach, such as classroom presentations and training for teachers. An analysis of children’s reactions to the tornado revealed moderate to high levels of a variety of problems, including nightmares, sleeplessness, and a fear of being alone. The occurrence of such problems was significantly associated with sex, injury or death of family members or friends, and the degree of involvement with the tornado. Recommendations for future disaster relief projects are offered. (Rapid response mutual aid groups: a new response to social crises and natural disasters.

Mental health needs and services in the aftermath of the Teton Dam disaster: Implications for social work education. 1977
Matison, Sonja C., Dissertation Abstracts International, Vol 38(4-A), Oct. pp. 2348.

Crisis intervention in an earthquake. 1972
Blaufarb, Herbert. Social Work , Vol. 17(4), Jul. pp. 16-19.
Describes crisis intervention with 300 families during the 5-wk period following a violent earthquake in Southern California . The common fears expressed by the children and their parents are noted, as well as maladaptive behaviors in reaction to the crisis. Intervention consisted of reducing anxiety, encouraging the communication of fears, aiding in the understanding of regressive behavior, and occasionally direct intervention. Questions raised by the program for crisis theory and clinical research are briefly discussed. http://search.epnet.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=cookie,ip,url,uid&db=psyh&an=1973-02802-001

Management of reactions to disaster. 1966
Shader, Richard I., Social Work , 11(2),. pp. 99-104.
Growing experience with emotional reactions to natural disasters has led to the delineation of 2 common reaction patterns. 1 cluster of symptoms can be seen soon after a disaster. The 2nd is long term and chronic and may appear and persist long after the stressful experience. These syndromes and a 7-stage, empirically derived breakdown of the natural history of disasters are presented.

February 1st, 2005 at 1:19 pm