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In the Path of Disasters: Psychosocial Issues for Preparedness, Response, and Recovery

  • Carol A. Amaratunga (a1) and Tracey L. O'Sullivan (a1)

The psychosocial impacts of disasters are profound. In recent years, there have been too many reminders of these impacts and the dire needs of the people involved. The purpose of this article is to present the following themes from the psychosocial literature on disasters and emergency management: (1) differential impacts of disasters according to gender and age; (2) prevention efforts to reduce racial discrimination, rape, and other forms of abuse; (3) readiness for cultural change toward prevention and preparedness; and (4) the need to involve aid beneficiaries as active partners in relief strategies, particularly during reconstruction of communities and critical systems. Psychosocial needs change throughout the disaster cycle, particularly as social support deteriorates over time. It is important to anticipate what psychosocial needs of the public, emergency responders, support staff, and volunteers might emerge, before advancing to the next stage of the disaster. Particular consideration needs to be directed toward differential impacts of disasters based on gender, age, and other vulnerabilities.

Corresponding author
Carol Amaratunga, Director Women's Health Research Unit, Institute of Population Health, University of Ottawa, 1 Stewart St., Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 6N5, Canada E-mail:
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Prehospital and Disaster Medicine
  • ISSN: 1049-023X
  • EISSN: 1945-1938
  • URL: /core/journals/prehospital-and-disaster-medicine
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