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Core Competencies in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance: A Systematic Review

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 May 2015

Alba Ripoll Gallardo*
CRIMEDIM, Università del Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy
Ahmadreza Djalali
CRIMEDIM, Università del Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy
Marco Foletti
CRIMEDIM, Università del Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy
Luca Ragazzoni
CRIMEDIM, Università del Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy
Francesco Della Corte
CRIMEDIM, Università del Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy
Olivera Lupescu
URGENTA, Clinical Emergency Hospital, Bucharest, Romania
Chris Arculeo
Hanover Associates, Teddington, London, UK
Gotz von Arnim
NHCS, National Health Career School of Management, Hennigsdorf/Berlin,Germany
Tom Friedl
NHCS, National Health Career School of Management, Hennigsdorf/Berlin,Germany
Michael Ashkenazi
Bonn International Center for Conversion, Bonn, University Clinic Bonn Department of Orthopedics and Trauma Surgery, Bonn, Germany
Philipp Fisher
Bonn International Center for Conversion, Bonn, University Clinic Bonn Department of Orthopedics and Trauma Surgery, Bonn, Germany
Boris Hreckovski
CROUMSA, Croatian Urgent Medicine and Surgery Association, Slav. Brod, Croatia
Amir Khorram-Manesh
Prehospital and Disaster Medicine Centre, Sahlgrenska Academy, Gothenburg, Sweden
Radko Komadina
SBC, General & Teaching Hospital Celje, Medical Faculty Ljubljana, Slovenia
Konstanze Lechner
German Aerospace Center (DLR), Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany
Marc Stal
Global Risk Forum GRF Davos, Davos, Switzerland
Cristina Patru
Clinical Emergency Hospital Bucharest, Romania
Frederick M. Burkle Jr.
Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Pier Luigi Ingrassia
CRIMEDIM, Università del Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy
Correspondence and reprint requests to Alba Ripoll Gallardo, Centro di Ricerca Interdipartimentale in Medicina d’Emergenza e dei Disastri (CRIMEDIM), Università del Piemonte Orientale Via Ferrucci 33/Via Lanino 1, 28100 Novara, Italy (e-mail:


Disaster response demands a large workforce covering diverse professional sectors. Throughout this article, we illustrate the results of a systematic review of peer-reviewed studies to identify existing competency sets for disaster management and humanitarian assistance that would serve as guidance for the development of a common disaster curriculum. A systematic review of English-language articles was performed on PubMed, Google Scholar, Scopus, ERIC, and Cochrane Library. Studies were included if reporting competency domains, abilities, knowledge, skills, or attitudes for professionals involved disaster relief or humanitarian assistance. Exclusion criteria included abstracts, citations, case studies, and studies not dealing with disasters or humanitarian assistance. Thirty-eight papers were analyzed. Target audience was defined in all articles. Five references (13%) reported cross-sectorial competencies. Most of the articles (81.6%) were specific to health care. Eighteen (47%) papers included competencies for at least 2 different disciplines and 18 (47%) for different professional groups. Nursing was the most widely represented cadre. Eighteen papers (47%) defined competency domains and 36 (94%) reported list of competencies. Nineteen articles (50%) adopted consensus-building to define competencies, and 12 (31%) included competencies adapted to different professional responsibility levels. This systematic review revealed that the largest number of papers were mainly focused on the health care sector and presented a lack of agreement on the terminology used for competency-based definition. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2015;9:430–439)

Systematic Review
Copyright © Society for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, Inc. 2015 

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