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Being Both Helpers and Victims: Health Professionals' Experiences of Working During a Natural Disaster
Örebro University, School of Health Sciences. Karlskoga Hospital, Örebro Region County Council, Karlskoga, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0534-4593
Örebro University, School of Health Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2577-1632
Sahlgrenska Akademin, Gothenburg University, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Örebro University, School of Health Sciences.
2017 (English)In: Prehospital and Disaster Medicine, ISSN 1049-023X, E-ISSN 1945-1938, Vol. 32, no 2, 117-123 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: In November 2013, the Haiyan typhoon hit parts of the Philippines. The typhoon caused severe damage to the medical facilities and many injuries and deaths. Health professionals have a crucial role in the immediate disaster response system, but knowledge of their experiences of working during and in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster is limited. Aim The aim of this study was to explore health professionals' experiences of working during and in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster.

Method: Eight health professionals were interviewed five months after the disaster. The interviews were analyzed using phenomenological hermeneutic methods.

Results: The main theme, being professional and survivor, described both positive and negative emotions and experiences from being both a helper, as part of the responding organization, and a victim, as part of the surviving but severely affected community. Sub-themes described feelings of strength and confidence, feelings of adjustment and acceptance, feelings of satisfaction, feelings of powerless and fear, feelings of guilt and shame, and feelings of loneliness.

Conclusion: Being a health professional during a natural disaster was a multi-faceted, powerful, and ambiguous experience of being part of the response system at the same time as being a survivor of the disaster. Personal values and altruistic motives as well as social aspects and stress-coping strategies to reach a balance between acceptance and control were important elements of the experience. Based on these findings, implications for disaster training and response strategies are suggested. Hugelius K , Adolfsson A , Örtenwall P , Gifford M . Being both helpers and victims: health professionals' experiences of working during a natural disaster.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
New York, USA: Cambridge University Press, 2017. Vol. 32, no 2, 117-123 p.
Keyword [en]
disaster medicine; disasters; health professionals; phenomenological hermeneutic method; relief work
National Category
Nursing
Research subject
Nursing Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-54391DOI: 10.1017/S1049023X16001412ISI: 000398228600002PubMedID: 28043240Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85007572037OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-54391DiVA: diva2:1072117
Note

Funding Agencies:

Fortifikationsföreningens Forskningsfond (Foundation of Fortification-Related Research)

Örebro County Council Research Committee (Örebro, Sweden)

Available from: 2017-02-07 Created: 2017-01-10 Last updated: 2017-05-10Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Disaster response for recovery: survivors experiences, and the use of disaster radio to promote health after natural disasters
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Disaster response for recovery: survivors experiences, and the use of disaster radio to promote health after natural disasters
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Disasters occur all over the world, and affect a rising number of people. The health effects of natural disasters depend on several factors present before, during, and after a disaster event. However, there is only limited knowledge of survivors experiences, needs, and health after natural disasters. Disaster radio means a temporary radio station that broadcasts information, music, and support to the affected population. Disaster radio has the potential to function even in a severely affected area, but its effects need to be further evaluated from a health perspective. The context of this thesis was the Haiyan supertyphoon that hit parts of the Philippines in November 2013.

The overall aim was to describe survivors’ and health professionals’ experiences during and in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster, the health effects from such a disaster, and how disaster radio as a disaster response intervention can be used and evaluated from a health perspective. The thesis includes four studies using qualitative research methods, including content analysis and a phenomenological hermeneutic method, and quantitative methods with statistical analysis.

The results show that the Haiyan typhoon affected physical, psychological, and social dimensions of health. Disaster radio was used to broadcast health-related information and psychosocial support, and made a positive contribution to recovery from the perspective of the survivors. Being a health professional deployed during the disaster was an experience of being both a helper and a victim. The use of a self-selected internetbased sample recruited via Facebook for a web-based survey mitigated several practical challenges related to disaster research, but also raised questions about the generalizability of the results.

Based on the findings, the importance of an integrated physical, psychological, and social health response to natural disasters is emphazized. Also, the health care system should prepare to use disaster radio as disaster response. In addition, the results suggest that disaster training for health professionals should include personal preparation and coping strategies. Internet-based methods in disaster research need to be further evaluated.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Örebro: Örebro university, 2017. 91 p.
Series
Örebro Studies in Care Sciences, ISSN 1652-1153 ; 69
Keyword
natural disaster, disaster response, disaster health, recovery, resilience
National Category
Other Health Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-52653 (URN)978-91-7529-180-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-03-31, Örebro universitet, Prismahuset, Hörsal 2, Fakultetsgatan 1, Örebro, 09:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2016-09-28 Created: 2016-09-28 Last updated: 2017-03-10Bibliographically approved

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