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Personal Disaster Preparedness: An Integrative Review of the Literature


Experts generally agree that individuals will require partial or complete self-sufficiency for at least the first 72 hours following a disaster. In the face of pervasive environmental and weather hazards, emerging biological threats, and growing population densities in urban areas, personal preparedness is critical. However, disaster planners and policymakers require further information to create meaningful improvements to this aspect of disaster preparedness. A systematic review of the literature was conducted to determine the state of evidence concerning personal disaster preparedness. The purpose of this integrative review is to describe and analyze the professional literature as an intended basis for advancing the field of disaster management research and practice. Included in the review were 36 studies that met the predetermined inclusion criteria. The current evidence indicates that factors influencing preparedness attitudes and behaviors are complex and multifaceted, including demographic characteristics, trust in government efforts, previous exposure to a disaster, and number of dependents in a household. Furthermore, certain population groups, households, and individuals have different disaster preparedness needs and vulnerabilities. This constellation of findings has significant implications for community and national emergency planning and policymaking.

(Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2012;6:217–231)

Corresponding author
Correspondence: Sivan Kohn, MPH, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Public Health Preparedness Programs, 615 N Wolfe St, Room E7038, Baltimore, MD 21205 (e-mail:
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Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness
  • ISSN: 1935-7893
  • EISSN: 1938-744X
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