With the current outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, increasing attention is drawn on how people immediately respond to and recover from natural disasters and other emergencies. Previous studies provide evidence that disaster can cause serious disruption in the function of society and devastation to community infrastructure along with emotional instability, trauma, and other negative psychological symptoms to the disaster victims. Although several scholars have examined the negative impact of disasters on individuals and families, there are limited studies having disaster resiliency perspectives on disaster victims’ pro-social behaviors or active community participation after disasters. To fill the gaps, this study explores factors associated with disaster survivors’ community participation after a disaster.
We used the largest disaster-related datasets in South Korea, the National Panel Survey of Disaster Victims. We used the most recent third wave dataset collected in 2018. Through computer-assisted personal interviews, a total of 2,311 natural disaster victims completed the survey. An outcome variable, community participation after a disaster, was assessed five-point Likert scale ranging 1) being less involved and 5) being most involved. Volunteering was dichotomized to indicate whether the person was more involved in volunteering after a disaster. Individual characteristics (age, gender, self-rated health, depression, resiliency, social support), community trust, perceived severity of loss due to the disaster, appraisal of the formal disaster management system (effectiveness of the disaster responses, the fairness of the distribution) were examined as predictors of the community participation. Descriptive statistics, multiple regressions, and logistic regressions were performed using STATA16 software.
An individual’s resiliency, social support, and self-rated health were found to be the common factors of increased community participation after a disaster (β=.05, p=.04; β =.07, p =.005; β =.168, p<.001, respectively). Also, a lower level of depression was related to increased community participation after a disaster (β = -.07, p=.02). We also found an interaction effect of community trust and depression. Overall, a lower level of depression was related to increased community participation after a disaster. However, this negative relationship between depression and community participation was much stronger for those groups with receiving a lower level of community trust. Also, if an individual perceives that the disaster relief resources from the government are distributed fairly, then he/she is more likely to be actively involved in community activities after a disaster. For logistic regression analysis, disaster survivors who have excellent self-rated health and a higher level of perception on the fairness of disaster resource distributions are more likely to participate in volunteer activity after a disaster. Other variables such as perceived severity of loss and overall effectiveness of the disaster responses were not significant to increased community participation.
This study substantiates the importance of community trust and appraisal of government disaster management systems to active community participation among disaster survivors. Our findings suggest that disaster survivors would become critical community human capital despite negative prolonged psychological symptoms. Having transparent and clear procedural fairness in distributing disaster resources may impact the increased level of sense of community, then ultimately increased behavioral community participation.