Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 79, Issue 3, pp 308–314 | Cite as

Disasters in urban context

  • Fran H. Norris
Special Feature: Urban Disaster


This article provides a brief overview of the field of disaster research, summarizing what is known at present about the prevalence of disasters, the range of stressors and outcomes experienced, and sample-, event-, and individual-level risk factors for poor health and mental health outcomes. Prior research does not suggest that an urban context either enhances or reduces risk for individual survivors. It is argued, however, that the influence of extraindividual exposure, ethnic diversity, and support deterioration may be especially salient for understanding urban disasters. Investigators of urban disasters are especially well situated to expand knowledge of ecological and collective aspects of disaster response and recovery.


Disaster Response Urban Context Impair Individual Disaster Victim Mental Health Measure 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. World Disaster Report. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff; 1999.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Norris F, Friedman M, Watson P, Byrne C, Diaz E, Kaniasty K. 60,000 disaster victims speak, Part I: an empirical review of the empirical literature, 1981–2001. Psychiatry. In press.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Norris F, Friedman M, Watson P. 60,000 disaster victims speak, Part II: summary and implications of the disaster mental health research. Psychiatry. In press.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Green B. Assessing levels of psychological impairment following disaster: consideration of actual and methodological dimensions. J Nerv Ment Dis. 1982;170:544–552.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Erikson K. Loss of communality at Buffalo, Creek. Am J Psychiatry. 1976;133:302–305.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Bolin R. Disaster characteristics and psychosocial impacts. In: Sowder B, ed. Disasters and Mental Health: Selected Contemporary Perspectives. Rockville, MD. National Institute of Mental Health; 1985:3–28.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Hanson R, Kilpatrick D, Freedy J, Saunders B. Los Angeles County after the 1992 civil disturbances: degree of exposure and impact on mental health. J Consult Clin Psychol. 1995;63:987–996.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Perilla J, Norris F, Lavizzo, E. Ethnicity, culture, and disaster response: identifying and explaining ethnic differences in PTSD 6 months after Hurricane Andrew. J Soc Clin Psychol. 2002;21:20–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Phifer J, Norris F. Psychological symptoms in older adults following disaster: nature, timing, duration, and course. J Gerontol. 1989;44:207–217.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Kaniasty K, Norris F. Atest of the support deterioration model in the context of natural disaster. J Pers Soc Psychol. 1993;64:395–408.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Galea S, Ahern J, Resnick H, et al. Psychological sequelae of the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York City. N Engl J Med. 2002;346:982–987.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Pfefferbaum B, Seale T, McDonald N. Posttraumatic stress two years after the Oklahoma City bombing in youths geographically distant from the explosion. Psychiatry. 2000;63:358–370.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Smith D, Christiansen E, Vincent R, Hann N. Population effects of the bombing of Oklahoma City. J Okla State Med Assoc. 1999;92:193–198.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Norris F, Perilla J, Murphy A. Postdisaster stress in the United States and Mexico: a cross-cultural test of the multi-criterion conceptual model of posttraumatic stress disorder. J Abnorm Psychol. 2001;110:553–563.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Kaniasty K, Norris F. In search of altruistic community: patterns of social support mobilization following Hurricane Hugo. Am J Community Psychol. 1995;23:447–477.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Bolin R. Long-Term Family Recovery From Disaster. Boulder, CO: Institute of Behavioral Science, University of Colorado; 1982.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Norris F, Kaniasty K. Received and perceived social support in times of stress: a test of the social support deterioration deterrence model. J Pers Soc Psychol. 1996;71:498–511.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Kaniasty K, Norris F. Social support dynamics in idjustment to disasters. In: Duck S, ed. Handbook of Personal Relationships. 2nd ed. London: Wiley; 1997:595–619.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Kaniasty K, Norris F. Individuals and communities sharing trauma: unpacking the experience of disaster. In: Gist R, Lubin B, eds. Psychosocial, Ecological, and Community Approaches to Understanding Disaster. London: Bruner/Mazel; 1999:25–62.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The New York Academy of Medicine 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Urban LifeGeorgia State UniversityAtlanta

Personalised recommendations