Abstract: Explaining Disaster and Pandemic Preparedness at the Nexus of Personal Resilience and Social Vulnerability: An Exploratory Study (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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507P Explaining Disaster and Pandemic Preparedness at the Nexus of Personal Resilience and Social Vulnerability: An Exploratory Study

Saturday, January 14, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Regardt Ferreira, PhD, Associate Professor, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA
Clare Cannon, PhD, Assistant Professor, College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences, Sacremento, CA
Fred Buttell, Professor, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA
Tim Davidson, MSW/MS, Program Coordinator, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA
Background and purpose: As disasters have increased in frequency and severity due to increased global temperature caused by climate change, more than a billion people have experienced a disaster in the past decade alone (IPCC, 2022). Preparedness is understood as collecting a set of supplies and/or creating a plan that can be deployed when a disaster is either imminent or encountered. The idea of pandemic preparedness is relatively new in the U.S. as witnessed with the COVID-19 pandemic. Little research has investigated preparedness related to co-occurring infectious disease disaster and climate change-induced disasters such as hurricanes. The purpose of this research was to identify and assess relationships among social vulnerability, personal resilience, and preparedness for a sample of U.S. residents living in the Gulf South, who experience both climate-related disaster (e.g., hurricanes, severe weather) and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods: This study utilizes a cross-sectional design. Data were collected over a 12-month period from an online survey launched the first week of April 2020. The self-administered online survey was distributed through one of the researcher’s personal social media accounts (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn) and advertised on the Tulane University School of Social Work’s social media outlets and website for a period of 12 months. The main inclusion criteria for the online survey required participants to be older than 18 years and have direct access to the survey link. The survey focus was on participants’ (a) previous disaster experience, (b) perceived stress (i.e., PSS), (c) current situation as it relates to COVID-19, (d) preparedness measures taken, and (e) personal and household demographics. The online Qualtrics survey took approximately 10 minutes to complete. The sample for this study includes 774 adults who completed the online survey. Data analysis was conducted using SPSS 26.

Results: Binary logistic regression models were conducted to examine factors associated with disaster and pandemic preparedness. Results for the disaster preparedness model indicate that respondents who identified as white, had more education, were in a relationship, spoke English as a first language, and had exhibited greater resilience, measured by the CD-RISC 10, reported they were more likely to prepare for a disaster (x2 = 98.772, df = 10, p = 0.001). For the pandemic preparedness model, English as a second language and resilience were both statistically significant explanatory variables of pandemic preparedness (x2 = 33.31, df = 10, p = 0.002).

Conclusions and Implications: These findings provide insights into protective factors related to preparedness, including linkages between resilience and preparedness. Importantly, resilience may serve as a compensatory factor in helping people adapt to a disaster by increasing their likelihood of preparing for disaster. Understanding this relationship between resilience and preparedness could be key to equitable adaptation strategies for climate change-induced disasters. Taken together, these results indicate that additional resources are required to address inequities for those impacted by disaster on a regular basis. This research is important because much of disaster research has overlooked the relationship between resilience and disaster preparedness.