Hostname: page-component-7d684dbfc8-tqxhq Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-09-22T16:22:16.866Z Has data issue: false Feature Flags: { "corePageComponentGetUserInfoFromSharedSession": true, "coreDisableEcommerce": false, "coreDisableSocialShare": false, "coreDisableEcommerceForArticlePurchase": false, "coreDisableEcommerceForBookPurchase": false, "coreDisableEcommerceForElementPurchase": false, "coreUseNewShare": true, "useRatesEcommerce": true } hasContentIssue false

Developing-World Disaster Research: Present Evidence and Future Priorities

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 April 2013


Objectives: The technology and resource-rich solutions of the developed world may not be completely applicable to or replicable in disasters occurring in the developing world. With the current looming hazards of pandemics, climate change, global terrorism and conflicts around the world, policy makers and governments will need high-quality scientific data to make informed decisions for preparedness and mitigation. The evidence on disasters in peer-reviewed journals about the developing world was examined for quality and quantity in this systematic review.

Methods: PubMed was searched using the Medical Subject Heading (MeSH) terms disasters, disaster medicine, rescue work, relief work, and conflict and then refined using the MeSH term developing country. The final list of selected manuscripts were analyzed by type of article, level of evidence, theme of the manuscript and topic, author affiliation, and region of the study.

Results: After searching and refining, <1% of the citations in PubMed addressed disasters in developing countries. The majority was original research articles or reviews, and most of the original research articles were level IV or V evidence. Less than 25% of the authors were from the developing world. The predominant themes were missions, health care provision, and humanitarian aid during the acute phase of disasters in the developing world.

Conclusions: Considering that 85% of disasters and 95% of disaster-related deaths occur in the developing world, the overwhelming number of casualties has contributed insignificantly to the world's peer-reviewed literature. Less than 1% of all disaster-related publications are about disasters in the developing world. This may be a publication bias, or it may be a genuine lack of submissions dealing with these disasters. Authors in this part of the world need to contribute to future disaster research through better-quality systematic research and better funding priorities. Aid for sustaining long-term disaster research may be a more useful investment in mitigating future disasters than short-term humanitarian aid missions to the developing world.

(Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2011;5:112–116)

Original Research
Copyright © Society for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, Inc. 2011

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)



1.Kellenberg, D, Mobarak, A.Does rising income increase or decrease damage risk from natural disasters? J Urban Econ. 2008;63:788802.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
2.Kahn, ME.The death toll from natural disasters: the role of income, geography, and institutions. Rev Econ Stat. 2005;87:271284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
3.Toya, H, Skidmore, M.Economic development and the impacts of natural disasters. Econ Lett. 2007;94:2025.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
4.Crespo Cuaresma, J, Hlouskova, J, Obersteiner, M.Natural disasters as creative destruction? Evidence from developing countries. Econ Inq. 2008;46:214226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
5.Quarantelli, E.Research findings on organizational behavior in disasters and their applicability in developing countries. PRELIMINARY PAPER #lo7. Disaster Research Center. Retrieved from Accessed May 14, 2011.Google Scholar
6.Alcántara-Ayala, I.Geomorphology, natural hazards, vulnerability and prevention of natural disasters in developing countries. Geomorphology. 2002;47:107124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
7.King, DA.The scientific impact of nations. Nature. 2004;430 (6997):311316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
8.International Monetary Fund. World Economic and Financial Surveys. World Economic Outlook. Database—WEO Groups and Aggregates Information. April 2010. Accessed May 6, 2011.Google Scholar
9.Centre for Evidence Based Medicine. Levels of evidence. J Evid Based Dent Pract. 2009;9 (1):A5A8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
10.Vijayakumar, L, Kannan, GK, Ganesh Kumar, B, Devarajan, P.Do all children need intervention after exposure to tsunami? Int Rev Psychiatry. 2006;18 (6):515522.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
11.Choudhury, AY, Bhuiya, A.Effects of biosocial variables on changes in nutritional status of rural Bangladeshi children, pre- and post-monsoon flooding. J Biosoc Sci. 1993;25 (3):351357.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
12.Ahmad, S.Trends and regional differentials in mortality in Bangladesh. Rural Demogr. 1988;15 (1-2):2739.Google ScholarPubMed
13.Sorensen, BL, Elsass, P, Nielsen, BB, Massawe, S, Nyakina, J, Rasch, V.Substandard emergency obstetric care—a confidential enquiry into maternal deaths at a regional hospital in Tanzania. Trop Med Int Health. 2010;15 (8):894900.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
14.Sumathipala, A, Siribaddana, S, Patel, V.Under-representation of developing countries in the research literature: ethical issues arising from a survey of five leading medical journals. BMC Med Ethics. 2004;5:E515461820.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
15.Horton, R.Medical journals: evidence of bias against the diseases of poverty. Lancet. 2003;361 (9359):712713.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
16.Horton, R.North and South: bridging the information gap. Lancet. 2000;355 (9222):22312236.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
17.von Schreeb, J, Riddez, L, Samnegård, H, Rosling, H.Foreign field hospitals in the recent sudden-onset disasters in Iran, Haiti, Indonesia, and Pakistan. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2008;23 (2):144151, discussion 152-153.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
18.Roy, N, Shah, H, Patel, V, Coughlin, RR.The Gujarat earthquake (2001) experience in a seismically unprepared area: community hospital medical response. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2002;17 (4):186195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
19.Roy, N.The Asian Tsunami: PAHO disaster guidelines in action in India. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2006;21 (5):310315.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
20.Stoddard, FJ JrMethods for Disaster Mental Health Research [book review]. Psychiatr Serv. 2008;59:815816.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
21.Chung, B, Jones, L, Campbell, LX, Glover, H, Gelberg, L, Chen, DT.National recommendations for enhancing the conduct of ethical health research with human participants in post-disaster situations. Ethn Dis. 2008;18 (3):378383.Google ScholarPubMed
22.Perlman, D.Public health practice vs research: implications for preparedness and disaster research review by State Health Department IRBs. Disaster Med Public Health Prep. 2008;2 (3):185191.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed