Date of Conferral



Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)


Health Services


Clarence J. Shumaker


Failure of emergency response personnel to communicate effectively with different cultures can have dire consequences during an emergency, including loss of lives and litigation costs. For emergency response personnel to communicate the risk of an emergency, it is important to understand how different groups, especially newly arrived foreign immigrants, perceive warnings and related messages. This study addressed how one of the largest category of immigrants in Michigan perceived severe tornados, influenza pandemics, power outages, severe floods, and snowstorms. The research question examined the degree to which the equation, Risk = Hazard + Outrage, explained perceptions of these hazards in Michigan among newly arrived Iraqi immigrants. A concurrent mixed-method design was used. In-person interviews were conducted using quantitative and qualitative questions based on the equation and the PEN 3 model with 84 immigrants from Iraq who lived in the United States 4 years or less. Respondents' levels of outrage and hazard were compared using ANOVA. The calculated levels were compared with the qualitative comments made during the interviews. Snowstorms measured the highest outrage, and power outages measured the least. The reported awareness level was lowest for snowstorms with the highest being power outages. More information needs to reach Iraqi immigrants regarding unfamiliar hazards. Communicators should use Iraqi immigrants' experience with familiar hazards to identify effective ways of responding to this population. The results of this study may promote social change of more effective communication and saving lives in the future should an emergency occur in Michigan that affects Iraqi immigrants.