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Prehosp Disaster Med. 2013 Feb;28(1):8-15. doi: 10.1017/S1049023X12001483. Epub 2012 Nov 22.

Guided preparedness planning with lay communities: enhancing capacity of rural emergency response through a systems-based partnership.

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  • 1Department of Mental Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA.



Community disaster preparedness plans, particularly those with content that would mitigate the effects of psychological trauma on vulnerable rural populations, are often nonexistent or underdeveloped. The purpose of the study was to develop and evaluate a model of disaster mental health preparedness planning involving a partnership among three, key stakeholders in the public health system.


A one-group, post-test, quasi-experimental design was used to assess outcomes as a function of an intervention designated Guided Preparedness Planning (GPP). The setting was the eastern-, northern-, and mid-shore region of the state of Maryland. Partner participants were four local health departments (LHDs), 100 faith-based organizations (FBOs), and one academic health center (AHC)-the latter, collaborating entities of the Johns Hopkins University and the Johns Hopkins Health System. Individual participants were 178 community residents recruited from counties of the above-referenced geographic area. Effectiveness of GPP was based on post-intervention assessments of trainee knowledge, skills, and attitudes supportive of community disaster mental health planning. Inferences about the practicability (feasibility) of the model were drawn from pre-defined criteria for partner readiness, willingness, and ability to participate in the project. Additional aims of the study were to determine if LHD leaders would be willing and able to generate post-project strategies to perpetuate project-initiated government/faith planning alliances (sustainability), and to develop portable methods and materials to enhance model application and impact in other health jurisdictions (scalability).


The majority (95%) of the 178 lay citizens receiving the GPP intervention and submitting complete evaluations reported that planning-supportive objectives had been achieved. Moreover, all criteria for inferring model feasibility, sustainability, and scalability were met.


Within the span of a six-month period, LHDs, FBOs, and AHCs can work effectively to plan, implement, and evaluate what appears to be an effective, practical, and durable model of capacity building for public mental health emergency planning.

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