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Public health-specific personal disaster preparedness training: An academic-practice collaboration

Sivan Kohn, MPH, Natalie Semon, MSEd, Haley K. Hedlin, PhD, Carol B. Thompson, MS, MBA, Felicity Marum, MHS, Sebra Jenkins, RN, Catherine C. Slemp, MD, MPH, Daniel J. Barnett, MD, MPH


Objectives: To measure the following three relevant outcomes of a personal preparedness curriculum for public health workers: 1) the extent of change (increase) in knowledge about personal preparedness activities and knowledge about tools for conducting personal preparedness activities; 2) the extent of change (increase) in preparedness activities performed post-training and/or confidence in conducting these tasks; and 3) an understanding of how to improve levels of personal preparedness using the Extended Parallel Process Model (EPPM) framework.

Design: Cross-sectional preinterventional and postinterventional survey using a convenience sample. Setting: During 2010, three face-to-face workshops were conducted in three locations in West Virginia.

Participants: One hundred thirty-one participants (baseline survey); 69 participants (1-year resurvey)—representing West Virginia local health department (LHD) and State Health Department employees.

Interventions: A 3-hour interactive, public health-specific, face-to-face workshop on personal disaster preparedness.

Main outcome measure(s): Change in 1) knowledge about, and tools for, personal preparedness activities; 2) preparedness activities performed post-training and/or confidence in conducting these activities; and 3) the relationship of EPPM categories to personal preparedness activities.

Results: One year postworkshop, 77 percent of respondents reported having personal emergency kits (40 percent at baseline) and 67 percent reported having preparedness plans (38 percent at baseline) suggesting some participants assembled supply kits and plans postworkshop. Within the context of EPPM, respondents in high-threat categories agreed more often than respondents in low-threat categories that severe personal impacts were likely to result from a moderate flood. Compared to respondents categorized as low efficacy, respondents in high-efficacy categories perceived confidence in their knowledge and an impact of their response on their job success at higher rates.

Conclusions: Personal disaster preparedness trainings for the LHD workforce can yield gains in relevant preparedness behaviors and attitudes but may require longitudinal reinforcement. The EPPM can offer a useful threat and efficacy-based lens to understand relevant perceptions surrounding personal disaster preparedness behaviors among LHD employees.


disaster, personal, preparedness, public health, Extended Parallel Process Model

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