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Conceptualising and measuring psychological preparedness for disaster: The Psychological Preparedness for Disaster Threat Scale


Most research on household disaster preparedness has focussed on physical, or material, preparation. Recently, researchers have turned attention to investigating psychological, or mental, preparedness for disasters. Reviews suggest that psychological preparedness comprises two broad mental dimensions or domains: a mostly cognitive aspect directed at the threat, involving knowledge of the threat environment and adaptive responses; and a mostly affective aspect involving self-awareness and emotional self-control. We located eight self-report measures of psychological preparedness, of which only three evidenced good psychometric properties. Of these, only the Psychological Preparedness for Disaster Threat Scale (PPDTS) developed by Zulch et al. (Psychological preparedness for natural disasters, 2012) seemed suitable for investigating psychological preparedness for disaster events in general in English-speaking contexts. A confirmatory factor analysis of data from a survey of 1253 Australian residents replicated the findings reported by Zulch et al. that the measure comprised two sub-scales: a 10-item Knowledge and Management sub-scale, and an 8-item Anticipation, Awareness and Management sub-scale. Evidence of both concurrent convergent and discriminant validity of the measure was found. The PPDTS appears to be a psychometrically sound self-report measure of householder psychological preparedness for a disaster event.

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This research was undertaken with the support of a CQUniversity internal grant “Fostering Collaborative Research Projects: Population Research Laboratory 2016”. We thank Sean Cowlishaw and Lyndsey Wright for helpful suggestions to improve a previous version of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Jim McLennan.

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McLennan, J., Marques, M.D. & Every, D. Conceptualising and measuring psychological preparedness for disaster: The Psychological Preparedness for Disaster Threat Scale. Nat Hazards 101, 297–307 (2020).

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  • Disaster preparation
  • Psychological preparedness
  • Mental preparedness