Date: 14 Apr 2009

Service Characteristics and Counseling Outcomes: Lessons from a Cross-Site Evaluation of Crisis Counseling After Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma

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The 2005 hurricane season was the worst on record, resulting in disaster declarations and the implementation of federally-funded crisis counseling programs in five states. As part of a larger cross-site evaluation of these programs, data from 2,850 participant surveys, 805 provider surveys, and 132,733 encounter logs (submitted from 3 weeks before to 3 weeks after the participant surveys) were aggregated to the county level (N = 50) and used to test hypotheses regarding factors that influence program performance. County-level outcomes (aggregate ratings of participants’ perceived benefits) improved as service intensity, service intimacy, and frequency of psychological referrals increased and as provider job stress decreased. The percent of providers with advanced degrees was indirectly related to participants’ perceived benefits by increasing service intensity and referral frequency. The results yielded recommendations for achieving excellence in disaster mental health programs.