Date of Award

8-10-2021

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)

Department

Public Health

First Advisor

Christine Stauber, PhD

Second Advisor

Harry Heiman, MD MPH

Third Advisor

Johnni Daniel, PhD

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Disasters devastate US communities every year, leading to increased morbidity and mortality among the population. During a disaster, household members may be on their own for a period of time because of the ongoing response efforts, size of the affected area, loss of communication, and impassible roads. Therefore, household preparedness is essential to a successful response and can help mitigate loss of life, injuries, and illnesses immediately after impact.

METHODS: To understand current behavior and level of preparedness, we analyzed data collected through Porter Novelli’s (PN) ConsumerStyles surveys (Fall 2020 n=3,625; Spring 2021 n=6,455). We conducted weighted analysis to examine distributions and estimate associations of emergency supply kit possession, items, and preparedness levels of each survey separately. Chi-square tests estimated the associations of preparedness levels and emergency supply kit ownership with demographics, disaster experience, and perceptions of preparedness. Multivariable logistic regression on SpringStyles data helped explain the relationship between key factors and emergency supply kit ownership and overall preparedness

RESULTS: Currently, less than half of US adults are prepared for a disaster; 64% of adults do not have an emergency supply kit and 52% have no preparedness plans. In addition, 43% do not feel confident in how to prepare for a disaster. Respondents were less likely to have an emergency supply kit if they were female, 75 years or older, lived in the Midwest or Northwest, or had less than a high school education. Beliefs play an important role. Those who are confident they know how to prepare for a disaster are more than four times as likely to have a kit and two times as likely to be prepared. Those that believe that an emergency supply kit will improve their chance of survival were more than three times as likely to have a kit.

CONCLUSION: Overall, these data show that we have work to do in terms of preparedness. Focused and dedicated effort on increasing preparedness must be tackled on several levels with dedicated funding and staff. These data are an essential starting point in characterizing current preparedness levels and emergency supply kit ownership and can be used to help guide our public messaging and work with state, local, tribal, and territorial partners.

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