Date of Conferral







Susana Verdinelli


People with disabilities are likely to experience difficulties overcoming the impact of natural disasters. Few scholars have focused on this population's ability to recover and handle stress following a natural disaster. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore and describe coping strategies and resilience factors that people with physical or mental disabilities used in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Resilience theory was used as the theoretical framework. Through face-to-face interviews, 10 persons with disabilities shared their experiences of coping and resilience. A lens of interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to identify emergent themes related to persons with disabilities' experiences of overcoming challenges and sustaining wellbeing in the aftermath of this natural disaster. According to study results, religion, recreation, and relaxation techniques were the main coping strategies used, and self-determination and independent skills were resilience factors that helped persons with disabilities remain positive and overcome challenges following the hurricane. Participants reported experiencing emotional reactions and identified the dislocation as the greatest stressor. The findings of this study have the potential to effect positive social change by informing stakeholders such as policymakers, community, and state agencies, and related professionals to help them recognize and address the health and psychological needs of persons with disabilities following a hurricane. Knowing which coping strategies and resilience factors persons with disabilities use to create awareness of the positive ways in which persons with disabilities manage the aftermath of this natural disaster.