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Disaster Health Management: Do Pharmacists Fit in the Team?

  • Kaitlyn E. Watson (a1) (a2), Vivienne Tippett (a1) (a2), Judith A. Singleton (a1) (a2) and Lisa M. Nissen (a1) (a2)



In addition to the traditional logistics role, pharmacists are undertaking important new roles in disasters. Despite this, little is known about the level of acceptance of these activities by other providers.


The aim of this study was to determine the international opinion of disaster and health professionals regarding the emerging roles of pharmacists in disasters.


Delegates at the World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine’s (WADEM; Madison, Wisconsin USA) 20th Congress in Toronto, Canada (April 2017) were invited to complete an anonymous survey posing eight questions regarding attitudes towards pharmacists’ roles in disasters. Quantitative data were analyzed using IBM (IBM Corp.; Armonk, New York USA) SPSS statistical software version 23, and qualitative data were manually coded.


Of the 222 surveys handed out, 126 surveys were completed yielding a 56.8% response rate. Of the respondents, 96.8% (122/126) believed pharmacists had a role in disasters additional to logistics. Out of 11 potential roles pharmacists could perform in a disaster, provided on a 5-point Likert scale, eight roles were given a rating of “Agree” or “Strongly Agree” by 72.4% or more of the participants. Lack of understanding of a pharmacist’s roles and capabilities was the highest described barrier to pharmacists’ roles in disaster management.


This multi-disciplinary disaster health “community” agreed pharmacists have roles in disasters in addition to the established role in supply chain logistics. Participants accepted that pharmacists could possibly undertake numerous clinical roles in a disaster. Several barriers were identified that may be preventing pharmacists from being further included in disaster health management planning and response.

WatsonKE, TippettV, SingletonJA, NissenLM. Disaster Health Management: Do Pharmacists Fit in the Team?Prehosp Disaster Med. 2019;34(1):30–37.


Corresponding author

Correspondence: Kaitlyn Watson, B.Pharm (Hons) Queensland University of Technology Q block level 9, Gardens Point Campus Brisbane, QLD, Australia 4000 E-mail:


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Conflicts of interest: none



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Prehospital and Disaster Medicine
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  • EISSN: 1945-1938
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