The H1N1 Crisis: A Case Study of the Integration of Mental and Behavioral Health in Public Health Crises

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, College of Medicine, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK 73126-0901, USA.
Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness (Impact Factor: 0.7). 03/2012; 6(1):67-71. DOI: 10.1001/dmp.2012.2
Source: PubMed


In substantial numbers of affected populations, disasters adversely affect well-being and influence the development of emotional problems and dysfunctional behaviors. Nowhere is the integration of mental and behavioral health into broader public health and medical preparedness and response activities more crucial than in disasters such as the 2009-2010 H1N1 influenza pandemic. The National Biodefense Science Board, recognizing that the mental and behavioral health responses to H1N1 were vital to preserving safety and health for the country, requested that the Disaster Mental Health Subcommittee recommend actions for public health officials to prevent and mitigate adverse behavioral health outcomes during the H1N1 pandemic. The subcommittee's recommendations emphasized vulnerable populations and concentrated on interventions, education and training, and communication and messaging. The subcommittee's H1N1 activities and recommendations provide an approach and template for identifying and addressing future efforts related to newly emerging public health and medical emergencies. The many emotional and behavioral health implications of the crisis and the importance of psychological factors in determining the behavior of members of the public argue for a programmatic integration of behavioral health and science expertise in a comprehensive public health response.

Download full-text


Available from: Brian W Flynn, Jul 03, 2015
  • Source
    • "“Catch it, Bin it, Kill it”), that successfully increased the perceived efficacy and adoption of recommended behaviors [26]. Being worried about the disease was identified as an important predictor of compliance with recommended preventive behaviors, and to be associated with the volume of media attention and media reporting on the number of H1N1 cases [18,19,24,26,30-34]. Furthermore, many studies have presented evidence linking H1N1-related knowledge to people’s attitudes (which could be either positive or negative evaluations of particular behaviors or events) such as approval of the governments’ response to the pandemic [20,35-37]. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Background: During public health emergencies, public officials are busy in developing communication strategies to protect the population from existing or potential threats. However, a population's social and individual determinants (i.e. education, income, race/ethnicity) may lead to inequalities in individual or group-specific exposure to public health communication messages, and in the capacity to access, process, and act upon the information received by specific sub-groups- a concept defined as communication inequalities.The aims of this literature review are to: 1) characterize the scientific literature that examined issues related to communication to the public during the H1N1 pandemic, and 2) summarize the knowledge gained in our understanding of social determinants and their association with communication inequalities in the preparedness and response to an influenza pandemic. Methods: Articles were searched in eight major communication, social sciences, and health and medical databases of scientific literature and reviewed by two independent reviewers by following the PRISMA guidelines. The selected articles were classified and analyzed in accordance with the Structural Influence Model of Public Health Emergency Preparedness Communications. Results: A total of 118 empirical studies were included for final review. Among them, 78% were population-based studies and 22% were articles that employed information environment analyses techniques. Consistent results were reported on the association between social determinants of communication inequalities and emergency preparedness outcomes. Trust in public officials and source of information, worry and levels of knowledge about the disease, and routine media exposure as well as information-seeking behaviors, were related to greater likelihood of adoption of recommended infection prevention practices. When addressed in communication interventions, these factors can increase the effectiveness of the response to pandemics. Conclusions: Consistently across studies, a number of potential predictors of behavioral compliance to preventive recommendations during a pandemic were identified. Our findings show the need to include such evidence found in the development of future communication campaigns to ensure the highest rates of compliance with recommended protection measures and reduce communication inequalities during future emergencies.
    Full-text · Article · May 2014 · BMC Public Health
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Background: This study examined the association between self-reported levels of household disaster preparedness and a range of physical and mental health quality of life outcomes. Methods: Data collected from 14 states participating in a large state-based telephone survey were analyzed (n = 104 654). Household disaster-preparedness items included having a 3-day supply of food, water, and prescription medications; a working battery-powered radio and flashlight; an evacuation plan; and a willingness to evacuate when instructed to do so. Quality-of-life items were categorized into 2 domains: physical health (general health, unhealthy physical days, and activity-limited days) and mental health (unhealthy mental days, social and emotional support, and life satisfaction). Results: Persons with self-reported impaired mental health were generally less likely to report being prepared for a disaster than those who did not report impairment in each domain. Persons with low life satisfaction were among the least likely to be prepared, followed by those with inadequate social and emotional support, and then by those with frequent mental distress. Persons reporting physical impairments also reported deficits in many of the preparedness items. However, after adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics, some of the associations were attenuated and no longer significant. Conclusion: Persons reporting impaired quality of life are vulnerable to increased mental and physical distress during a disaster, and their vulnerability is compounded if they are ill-prepared. Therefore, persons reporting impaired quality of life should be included in the list of vulnerable populations that need disaster preparedness and response outreach.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2013 · Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Behavioral health professional organizations are in the unique role of aggregating and disseminating information to their membership before, during, and after health-related disasters to promote the integration of behavioral health services into the public health disaster response plan. This article provides a set of 5 principles to direct this undertaking that are based on the current literature and previous evaluation of the online guidance provided by 6 prominent behavioral health professional organizations. These principles use a strengths-based approach to prioritize resilience; underscore the importance of context, collaboration, and coordination; recognize the unique needs of pediatric populations; and guide ongoing training and content development in the area of biopsychosocial responses to health-related disasters. Recognizing important innovations and strides made by the behavioral health organizations noted in a previous study, this article recommends additional areas in which behavioral health professional organizations can contribute to overall pandemic disaster preparedness and response efforts. ( Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness . 2015;0:1-8)
    No preview · Article · Jul 2015 · Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness