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Disaster Med Public Health Prep. 2013 Apr;7(2):191-200. doi: 10.1017/dmp.2013.23.

Health-related quality of life domains and household preparedness for public health emergencies: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2006-2010.

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  • 1Office of Science and Public Health Practice, Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia.



This study examined the association between self-reported levels of household disaster preparedness and a range of physical and mental health quality of life outcomes.


Data collected from 14 states participating in a large state-based telephone survey were analyzed (n = 104 654). Household disaster-preparedness items included having a 3-day supply of food, water, and prescription medications; a working battery-powered radio and flashlight; an evacuation plan; and a willingness to evacuate when instructed to do so. Quality-of-life items were categorized into 2 domains: physical health (general health, unhealthy physical days, and activity-limited days) and mental health (unhealthy mental days, social and emotional support, and life satisfaction).


Persons with self-reported impaired mental health were generally less likely to report being prepared for a disaster than those who did not report impairment in each domain. Persons with low life satisfaction were among the least likely to be prepared, followed by those with inadequate social and emotional support, and then by those with frequent mental distress. Persons reporting physical impairments also reported deficits in many of the preparedness items. However, after adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics, some of the associations were attenuated and no longer significant.


Persons reporting impaired quality of life are vulnerable to increased mental and physical distress during a disaster, and their vulnerability is compounded if they are ill-prepared. Therefore, persons reporting impaired quality of life should be included in the list of vulnerable populations that need disaster preparedness and response outreach.

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