Date of Conferral





Public Health


Clarence Schumaker


The significant rise of both chronic diseases and disasters in the last 20 years and the healthcare outcomes of individuals with chronic diseases during and in the aftermath of disasters have raised concerns among public health practitioners, healthcare providers, the U.S government, and the general public. Researchers have indicated that during disasters, the health outcomes of individuals with chronic diseases are significantly unfavorable compared to the general public. However, there is inadequate information on the management of chronic diseases, quality of care, and resource identification and allocation by disaster responders. This qualitative, grounded theory study, explored how the study participants addressed chronic disease needs during and after disasters. A total of 15 adult disaster relief responders who had been involved in disaster planning, response, or care management of individuals with chronic diseases, were recruited through snowballing, public/bulleting postings, and social media. Using the ecological model of disaster management allowed the identification of individual and societal influences that hinder disaster preparedness and chronic disease management. Data collection consisted of semistructured in-depth open-ended interview questions, allowing participants to share their lived experiences. Data were analyzed through open, axial, and selective coding and managed using the Atlas ti8 software. The findings supported the ecological model of disaster management and strategies such as the use of special needs shelters during impending disasters. Such strategies could enhance disaster preparedness and planning efforts and potentially improve health outcomes during and after disasters.