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J Public Health Manag Pract. 2013 Sep-Oct;19 Suppl 2:S55-62. doi: 10.1097/PHH.0b013e318297226a.

Disparate health implications stemming from the propensity of elderly and medically fragile populations to shelter in place during severe storm events.

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Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia, USA.


Chronic conditions, disability limitations (mobility, cognitive, and sensory), and the need for assistance with activities of daily living are characteristics of elderly and medically fragile populations. Theory suggests that households with these vulnerability attributes are more likely to suffer storm-induced adverse and prolonged health consequences and, therefore, ought to evidence an increased propensity to evacuate prior to a severe storm event. Yet despite being more sensitive to storm disruption, the elderly and medically fragile populations are only slightly more likely to evacuate in the face of impending storms. This suggests, for these groups, there may be other factors such as income, transportation, and social and familial networks that may be attenuating the propensity to evacuate. The public health significance is found in that the propensity to shelter in place, rather than evacuate, may contribute to disparate health outcomes. Data illustrating the prevalence of these conditions and the propensity to shelter in place are derived from a sampling of Hampton Roads households following the 2011 Hurricane Irene.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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