Public Disaster Communication and Child and Family Disaster Mental Health: a Review of Theoretical Frameworks and Empirical Evidence
Children have been identified as particularly vulnerable to psychological and behavioral difficulties following disaster. Public child and family disaster communication is one public health tool that can be utilized to promote coping/resilience and ameliorate maladaptive child reactions following an event. We conducted a review of the public disaster communication literature and identified three main functions of child and family disaster communication: fostering preparedness, providing psychoeducation, and conducting outreach. Our review also indicates that schools are a promising system for child and family disaster communication. We complete our review with three conclusions. First, theoretically, there appears to be a great opportunity for public disaster communication focused on child disaster reactions. Second, empirical research assessing the effects of public child and family disaster communication is essentially nonexistent. Third, despite the lack of empirical evidence in this area, there is opportunity for public child and family disaster communication efforts that address new domains.
KeywordsDisaster Children Intervention Communication Campaign Mental health
Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance. •• Of major importance
- 6.•Pfefferbaum B, North C. Child disaster mental health services: a review of the system of care, assessment approaches, and evidence base for intervention. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2015;18(1):1–7. doi:10.1007/s11920-015-0647-0. A comprehensive overview of the child disaster mental health system of care. Includes a description of a stepped care approach to supporting children after an event.Google Scholar
- 7.••Pfefferbaum B, Varma V, Nitiéma P, Newman E. Universal preventive interventions for children in the context of disasters and terrorism. Child Adolesc Psychiatr Clin N Am. 2014;23(2):363–82. doi:10.1016/j.chc.2013.12.006. A systematic literature review of universal interventions designed to assist children before and after natural and human-caused disasters.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 8.••Houston JB. Public disaster mental/behavioral health communication: intervention across disaster phases. Int J Emerg Manag. 2012;10(4):283–92. doi:10.5055/jem.2012.0106. This article provides a framework for using public disaster communication as mental and behavioral health intervention before, during, and after an event. The framework includes overall goals for each disaster phase and suggests strategies to achieve those goals.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 11.••Pfefferbaum B, Shaw JA, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) Committee on Quality Issues (CQI). Practice parameter on disaster preparedness. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2013;52(11):1224–38. American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry’s Practice Parameter that describes best practices for assessment and treatment of children experiencing disaster.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 13.Kanter RK, Abramson D. School interventions after the Joplin tornado. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2014:1–4. doi:10.1017/s1049023x14000181.
- 16.Houston JB, Spialek ML, Stevens J, First J, Mieseler VL, Pfefferbaum B. Joplin, Missouri tornado experience, mental health reactions, and service utilization: cross-sectional assessments at approximately 6 months and 2.5 years post-event. PLoS Currents Disasters. 2011;2015:7. doi:10.1371/currents.dis.18ca227647291525ce3415bec1406aa5.Google Scholar
- 17.Vermeulen K. Understanding your audience: how psychologists can help emergency managers improve disaster warning compliance. Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. 2014;11(3):309–15.Google Scholar
- 18.•Reynolds B, Seeger M. Crisis and emergency risk communication. 2014 ed. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2014. Available at http://emergency.cdc.gov/cerc/. Accessed 15 Jan 2016. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention manual for communicating during and after a disaster or public health emergency.
- 20.Atkin CK, Rice RE. Theory and principles of public communication campaigns. In: Rice RE, Atkin CK, editors. Public communication campaigns. 4th ed. Los Angeles: Sage; 2013. p. 3–19.Google Scholar
- 23.Snyder LB, LaCroix JM. How effective are mediated health campaigns? A synthesis of meta-analyses. In: Rice RE, Atkin CK, editors. Public communication campaigns. 4th ed., Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage; 2013. p. 113–29.Google Scholar
- 25.•Ronan KR, Alisic E, Towers B, Johnson VA, Johnston DM. Disaster preparedness for children and families: a critical review. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2015;17(7):58. doi:10.1007/s11920-015-0589-6. Comprehensive review of child and family disaster preparedness and prevention education programs.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 28.Wachtendorf T, Brown B, Nickle MC. Big bird, disaster masters, and high school students taking charge: the social capacities of children in disaster education. Children, Youth and Environments. 2008;18(1):456–69.Google Scholar
- 36.Naturale AJ. Outreach strategies: an experiential description of the outreach methodologies used in the September 11, 2001, disaster response in New York. In: Ritchie EC, Watson PJ, Friedman MJ, editors. Interventions following mass violence and disasters: strategies for mental health practice. New York: Guilford Press; 2006. p. 365–83.Google Scholar
- 39.•Beaudoin CE. Evaluating a media campaign that targeted PTSD after Hurricane Katrina. Health Commun. 2009;24(6):515–23. doi:10.1080/10410230903104905. This article provides the only published evaluation of a public disaster psychoeducation campaign targeting adults. Following Hurricane Katrina, attention to a radio campaign was found to have an effect on PTSD beliefs and PTSD preventative actions and have an indirect effect on posttraumatic stress symptoms among African American adults.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 44.Missouri Department of Mental Health. Supporting Joplin in recovery: the behavioral health response. 2013, February. http://dmh.mo.gov/docs/opla/supportingjoplininrecovery.pdf. Accessed 15 Jan 2016.