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Measuring Levels of Citizen Public Health Emergency Preparedness, Jefferson County, Alabama

McCormick, Lisa C. DrPH; Pevear, Jesse III MSPH; Xie, Rongbing MPH

Journal of Public Health Management & Practice: May/June 2013 - Volume 19 - Issue 3 - p 266–273
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0b013e318264ed8c
Original Articles

Context: Recent disaster experiences in Alabama have highlighted the state's public health vulnerabilities to natural disasters. To respond to the need of building better prepared and more resilient communities, the Alabama Department of Public Health developed and launched a mass media campaign, Get10, to promote personal preparedness. This study evaluates the level of preparedness of the residents in Jefferson County, Alabama, using Get10 recommendations of Alabama Department of Public Health as a guideline. This study also examines the level of personal preparedness of the at-risk population including those older than 65 years and those younger than 65 years with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, poor perceived health status, and a physical, mental, or emotional activity limitation disability.

Objective: To assess (1) awareness of multimedia preparedness campaigns; (2) the levels of personal preparedness in Jefferson County residents; and (3) the levels of personal preparedness within different sectors of the vulnerable or “at-risk” populations.

Design: A random-digit-dialed survey was conducted following the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System protocols in the fall of 2010. The survey included a subset of Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System questions and additional questions based on Get10 recommendations.

Results: More than 38% of the residents of Jefferson County have a complete disaster kit. Those representing the vulnerable (at-risk) populations are not more likely to have preparedness kits than the general population (P = .6646). Marital status was the only variable that was consistently significant in determining whether someone had a complete disaster kit (P = .0140); however, bivariate analysis indicated annual household income as significant (P = .0109). No association was found between having a complete preparedness kit and familiarity with general family preparedness campaigns (P = .0976) or Get10 campaign of Alabama Department of Public Health (P = .3227).

Conclusions: Vulnerable populations were no more likely to have a complete disaster preparedness kit than the general population. Therefore, future marketing should target those at risk of adverse health effects following a disaster as well as the unmarried and those with household incomes under $25 000 per year. Future disaster preparedness campaigns should monitor and evaluate their efforts in reaching these populations and include strategies for acquiring and maintaining disaster kit items.

This article describes the level of preparedness of the residents in Jefferson County, Alabama, using a mass media campaign, Get10, recommendations of Alabama Department of Public Health as a guideline and examines the level of personal preparedness of the at-risk population.

South Central Preparedness and Emergency Response Learning Center (Ms Xie), and Department of Health Care Organizations and Policy (Dr McCormick), University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health, Birmingham; and Alabama Department of Public Health (Mr Pevear), Montgomery.

Correspondence: Lisa C. McCormick, DrPH, Department of Health Care Organizations and Policy, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health, RPHB 330, 1720 2nd Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35294 (lmccormick@uab.edu).

These data were collected as part of a modified BRFSS Communities Putting Prevention to Work survey supplement. The survey was funded by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act through a cooperative agreement to the Alabama Department of Public Health administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the Alabama Department of Public Health or the CDC.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.