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Crit Care Nurs Clin North Am. 2010 Dec;22(4):515-22. doi: 10.1016/j.ccell.2010.09.005.

Cultural, ethical, and spiritual implications of natural disasters from the survivors' perspective.

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  • 1University of Houston Victoria, Sugar Land, Texas 77479, USA.


Cultural, ethical, and spiritual implications of disaster depend on various factors. The impact of a disaster on a particular culture depends on the people in that culture and the strength and resilience of the culture. Disasters may slow cultural development; however, typically the customs, beliefs, and value systems remain the same even if the outward expressions of culture change. Critical to survivors is the implication of aid that is culturally sensitive. Ethical questions and dilemmas associated with disasters and their management are profound. Adhering to ethical principles does not solve all of the issues related to disaster management, but awareness of their utility is important. People affected by a disaster may not be capable of responding to human rights violations, so it is the first responders who must be cognizant of their responsibility to protect the victims’ dignity and rights. Ethical treatment of survivors entails a crucial blend of knowledge about ethnic culture, religious beliefs, and human rights. A strong awareness of ethical principles is merely a beginning step to well-informed decision making in disaster situations. The literature also suggests that during a crisis, spirituality helps victims to cope. Important to any catastrophic event is the understanding that every disaster creates unique circumstances that require relief responses tailored to the specific situation.

Published by Elsevier Inc.

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