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Health Secur. 2018 May/Jun;16(3):178-192. doi: 10.1089/hs.2018.0007. Epub 2018 Jun 8.

The Disaster Information Needs of Families of Children with Special Healthcare Needs: A Scoping Review.


Families with children who have access and mobility challenges, chronic illness, or intellectual or developmental disabilities require targeted messages before, during, and after disasters to ensure that they understand risks to their children's health and can take measures to avoid harm and build resilience. A scoping review was conducted to assess current evidence for optimal ways to address the disaster information needs and communication preferences of families with children and youth with special healthcare needs. The disaster information needs of such families remain understudied, with few published evidence-based practices. Much of the relevant research focuses on information content, specifically the preparedness needs of these families; disaster recovery information for them remains a major gap. The few studies that have been performed suggest that parents with children and youth with special healthcare needs require additional information, education, and training to develop an effective disaster preparedness plan for their children. They are also largely unaware of schools' disaster plans, and schools are often unable to meet parents' expectations for timely, accurate information during a disaster. Several guidance documents highlighted the importance of completing an emergency information form before an event. Several studies suggested that one-on-one education or counseling was a strategy for encouraging preparedness planning; others highlighted potential value in incorporating families directly into disaster risk reduction planning. Evidence about channel preferences and their effectiveness in this population was generally lacking. Future studies should expand the evidence basis for optimal communication during all disaster phases both with parents of children and youth with special healthcare needs and with children directly.


At-risk populations; Children and youth with special healthcare needs; Public health preparedness/response; Risk communication

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