Disparity in disaster preparedness between racial/ethnic groups

  • Bethel J
  • Burke S
  • Britt A
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Objective The objective of this study was to examine the association between race/ethnicity (including language subgroups among Hispanics) and disaster preparedness among Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey respondents. Methods BRFSS data were obtained for eight states which implemented the optional general preparedness module from 2006 through 2010. Three dependent variables were analyzed including presence of four preparedness items (i.e., food, water, flashlight, and radio), emergency evacuation plan, and 3-d supply of medication. Primary independent variable included race/ethnicity accounting for language of survey. Data were analyzed in 2011 and accounted for BRFSS sampling design. Results Black (OR = 0.66, 95% CI = 0.56, 0.79), English-speaking Hispanic (OR = 0.48, 95% CI = 0.34, 0.69) and Spanish-speaking Hispanic respondents (OR = 0.20, 95% CI = 0.13, 0.29) were less likely than non-Hispanic white respondents to live in a household in which all members requiring medication had a 3-d supply. Results varied regarding presence of four preparedness items and an emergency evacuation plan. Conclusions Racial/ethnic minority groups were less likely to have medication supplies but only Spanish-speaking Hispanics were less likely to have an emergency evacuation plan than white respondents. Public health officials can use these findings to support targeting racial/ethnic minorities to increase the presence of preparedness items important to mitigate the effects of disasters, with particular emphasis on medication supplies and Spanish-speaking Hispanics.




Bethel, J. W., Burke, S. C., & Britt, A. F. (2013). Disparity in disaster preparedness between racial/ethnic groups. Disaster Health, 1(2), 110–116. https://doi.org/10.4161/dish.27085

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