Community Mental Health Journal

, Volume 48, Issue 6, pp 729–740 | Cite as

A Qualitative Analysis of Barriers, Challenges, and Successes in Meeting the Needs of Hurricane Katrina Evacuee Families

  • John-Paul Legerski
  • Eric M. Vernberg
  • Brian J. Noland
Original Paper


Hurricane Katrina caused many individuals to evacuate to towns and cities throughout the United States. Psychological First Aid (PFA) is a treatment program designed to help clinicians and other disaster relief workers address the needs of adults, youth, and families immediately following disasters. We conducted focus groups with disaster relief and evacuee service providers in the Kansas City Metro Area as an exploratory study to identify their perceptions of the needs of evacuees. Participants identified a number of mental health needs, as well as displacement-related challenges, including loss of social support, material loss, unemployment, and other stressful life events that were secondary to the hurricane. Many of these needs are consistent with principles presented in the PFA manual. We also found that service providers faced unique challenges when attempting to assist evacuees. We discuss implications of these findings for treatment programs and provide suggestions for addressing barriers to care.


Hurricane Katrina Psychological First Aid Barriers to care Evacuees Response preparedness Posttraumatic stress 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • John-Paul Legerski
    • 1
  • Eric M. Vernberg
    • 2
  • Brian J. Noland
    • 2
  1. 1.University of North DakotaGrand ForksUSA
  2. 2.University of KansasLawrenceUSA

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