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Semi-structured interviews on disaster and emergency preparedness for people with disabilities in two states in Mexico

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When a disaster occurs, people with disabilities are at a higher risk to adverse health outcomes due to inadequate access to resources, high levels of exposure to hazards, and an overall lack of integration with emergency responders. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore and describe perspectives of people with disabilities (PWD) in the context of emergency and disaster preparedness in Mexico. The Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological systems theory and the social model of disability were utilized to frame this study. Utilization of standpoint epistemology and community-based input from the focus population allowed for greater understanding of their needs and revealed the potential steps toward promotion of disaster and emergency preparedness among these vulnerable communities. Six surveys were completed by rehabilitation professionals all over Mexico, and eleven semi-structured interviews were completed with PWD in two different research settings in Mexico. The findings provide a precise and nuanced understanding of holistic inclusion in disaster and emergency situations. This study uncovers many unmet needs in the community and input on how to address these issues through grassroot coalition building and inclusion. This study reflects the same urgency as seen in the 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report; however, in this study, this assertion is conveyed through the perspective of those who have lived through disastrous events in Mexico in recent years. Conclusively, promotion of emergency and disaster preparedness among people with disabilities will only be achieved through an intersectional and inclusive, equity-based approach to human rights.

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Data availability

The datasets generated during the study are not publicly available to prevent disclosure of study participants.


  1. Mexico’s most proximate global peers according to the INFORM Index are: Zimbabwe, Guinea-Bissau, Malawi, Palestine, Azerbaijan, Cambodia.


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The authors thank Jennifer Schneider for assistance with data coding and dialogic engagement. The authors also thank Dr. Joe Stramondo, who provided input on language regarding people with disabilities and how to frame this research with an equitable inclusive perspective. And finally, most importantly, the authors thank the participants who shared their experiences and the two local organizations for their support, Piña Palmera Centro de Atención Infantil, A.C. and Comité Binacional Unidos por la Niñez A.C. ¡Gracias a todxs los que apoyaron y contribuyeron a este proyecto!


The authors did not receive support from any organization for the submitted work.

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Authors and Affiliations



NS and RP led study conceptualization with input from MG. NS collected, transcribed and coded data. NS and RP were involved in data analysis. NS drafted the paper, and RP and MG reviewed and suggested changes. All authors approved the final document.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Noelle Simpson.

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The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare that are relevant to the content of this article.

Consent to participate

All participants provided written informed consent.

Consent for publication

Participants were assured confidentiality and privacy even though information would be used for published articles or for presentations to other scientists.

Ethics approval

This study was approved by the San Diego State University Institutional Review Board (HS-2019–0114).

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Simpson, N., Pérez, R. & Goldberg, M. Semi-structured interviews on disaster and emergency preparedness for people with disabilities in two states in Mexico. Nat Hazards 106, 1037–1064 (2021).

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