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Evaluating the effectiveness of psychological preparedness advice in community cyclone preparedness materials

The Australian Journal of Emergency Management, Vol. 18 No. 2, May 2003
Evaluating the effectiveness of
psychological preparedness
advice in community cyclone
preparedness materials
Morrissey & Reser explore whether psychological preparedness information
helps individuals to prepare for the onset of cyclones.
By Dr. Shirley A. Morrissey & Dr Joseph P. Reser
This paper addresses the case of tropical cyclone
warnings in Northern Australia and briefly outlines
the nature, logic, and findings of a psychological
preparedness intervention trialed in Cairns,
Queensland, during the 1996/1997cyclone season.
The aim of the research was to trial, evaluate and
refine an innovative natural disaster public education
and warning communication intervention focusing
on tropical cyclone preparedness and response. This
risk communication intervention involved the
dissemination of selected psychological information
designed to enable individuals to better cope with
themselves and others in an increasingly threatening
situation. The psycho-educational content material
incorporated was derived from ‘Stress Inoculation
Theory’ (Meichenbaum, 1985; 1994; Meichenbaum
& Deffenbacher, 1988). The research found that the
pre-cyclone season period is a critically important
time and venue for prevention and mitigation, and
that psychological factors and processes during this
threat period are of singular importance to effective
coping and adaptive responding. The research also
clearly indicated that there are a substantial number
of residents in cyclone-prone communities for whom
chronic anxiety, avoidant coping styles, and prior
traumatic experience constitute both a substantial
vulnerability factor and a genuine impediment to
psychological and physical preparedness.
The nature and effectiveness of natural disaster warning
messages and community education and preparedness
initiatives and materials constitute areas of surprising
research neglect in an era in which considerable
investment is being made in disaster reduction and
mitigation. Likewise, pre-impact psychological
intervention has been an area of surprising omission in
multidisciplinary writings about human response to
natural disaster, with Australian bushfire preparedness
work being a noteworthy exception (e.g., Rohrmann,
1998, 2000). This is not to say that there does not exist
an extensive literature on human response to natural
and man-made hazards, but much of this discourse
relates to either post impact stress and coping issues or
organizational preparedness and response. The
literatures which seemingly focus more directly on
individual risk perception and human response to
threatening events are typically not psychological
(e.g., Douglas & Wildavsky, 1982; Freudenburg &
Pastor, 1992; Mileti & Sorensen, 1990; Saarinen, 1982;
Turner, Nigg & Paz, 1986) and do not tend to address
the individual experience of a threatening and
potentially cataclysmic event. While this says more
about interdisciplinary fragmentation than any reality,
it is surprisingly the case that there has been very little
research done at the individual response level as distinct
from collective community and organizational impact
(e.g. Baum, 1987, 1991; Bell, Greene, Fisher, & Baum,
2000; Earle & Cvetkovich, 1990).
While the clear priorities and research agenda of the
recent United Nations declared International Decade of
Natural Disaster Reduction were ‘to reduce natural
disasters through prevention, mitigation and
preparedness measures’ (United Nations resolution,
1994), these objectives are far from being realised, one
year from the close of the decade, in terms of any
focused research on the human and psychological side
of risk communication or preparedness. Of particular
neglect are psychological preparedness and the nature of
human response to natural disaster warnings as distinct
from actual impact (e.g., Reser, 1996). The vast
proportion of natural disaster research is focused on
either the physical event itself, or post impact recovery.
Yet from a preventive and mitigation perspective,
preparedness and human response to risk
communication and threat appraisal are a critical
concern. It is noteworthy, indeed remarkable, that so
little research has focused on the psychological processes
The Australian Journal of Emergency Management, Vol. 18 No 2. May 2003
underlying threat appraisal and coping with natural
disaster warning messages, and that no research to date
has explored the utility of a stress inoculation, emotion
management procedure such as that described in
this paper.
This paper addresses the case of tropical cyclone
warnings in Northern Australia and briefly outlines the
nature, logic, and findings of a psychological
preparedness intervention trialed in Cairns, Queensland,
during the 1996/1997 cyclone season. The intervention
constituted a modified stress inoculation procedure
based on the work of Meichenbaum (1977, 1985).
The occurrence of Cyclone Justin in the 1996/1997
season allowed for a pre and post event evaluation of
a spectrum of psychological variables and
preparedness measures.
Aim of the research
The aim of the research was to trial, evaluate and refine
an innovative natural disaster public education and
warning communication intervention focusing on
tropical cyclone preparedness and response. This risk
communication intervention involved the dissemination
of selected psychological information designed to enable
individuals to better cope with themselves and others in
an increasingly threatening situation. This information
was designed to complement conventional public
education materials independently distributed and
made available through the Cairns City Council, the
Bureau of Meteorology, and other regional authorities.
The psycho-educational content material incorporated
was derived from ‘Stress Inoculation Theory’
(Meichenbaum, 1985; 1994; Meichenbaum &
Deffenbacher, 1988). Stress Inoculation Theory (SIT)
is a well-researched emotion management strategy and
cognitive behavioural procedure, which enhances
individuals’ ability to anticipate, identify, and cope
with stressful situations and stress-induced emotional
responses. The intervention was intended to address
the well-documented non-preparedness of Northern
Australian coastal communities vulnerable to tropical
cyclones. The logic for employing such a procedure was
premised on the arguments that anxiety in the face of an
impending natural disaster threat ‘gets in the way’ of
adequate preparedness, and that being able to anticipate,
recognise and manage such anxiety and other emotional
responses to natural disaster threat will enhance
successful coping, promote more adequate
preparedness, and ensure that preparedness measures
are reinforced by experienced stress reduction and
competence in an emergency situation (e.g., Reser,
1980, 1996; Reser & Morrissey, 1995; Morrissey &
Reser, 2001). The intervention is also viewed as
having substantial preventive value in reducing
post-traumatic stress.
The study was an evaluation or outcome study,
involving a naturally occurring variable/event (a severe
cyclone warning) as well as the presence or absence of
an earlier psychological intervention. The methodology
of the study conformed to what is known as a ‘pre-test –
post-test control group design’ (e.g., Campbell &
Stanley, 1963; Singleton & Straits, 1999). See Table 1.
Essentially this is a study in which measures are taken
both before and after an experimental procedure or a
trialed intervention. In this research the methodology
also included a second or ‘hanging’ control group, which
was only surveyed following the cyclone warning to
independently assess the effect of the pre-season survey
itself. The research can also be considered an evaluation
study in that a primary objective was to evaluate the
effectiveness of a planned intervention (e.g., Lipsey &
Cordray, 2000; Posavac & Carey, 1997; Rossi, Freeman
& Lipsey, 1999). The study employed an experimental
design and survey methodology which involved
440 residents completing two sequential questionnaires,
each of which was approximately nine pages in length,
depending on research condition and pre or post-event
version, with a further 200 residents completing
a post-event only version (Reser & Morrissey, 2000).
Participant households were selected using a stratified
street and house sampling procedure, and were
randomly assigned to each of the three research
conditions. The Cairns suburbs included in the study
were essentially from Trinity Park north, including the
suburbs of Trinity Park, Smithfield, Trinity Beach,
Kewarra Beach, Clifton Beach, and Palm Cove. These
Coming to terms with the aftermath
suburbs were selected for logistical reasons, as well as
the fact that they were particularly ‘vulnerable’ to
cyclonic winds and storm surge threat. The sampled
area included some areas of relative safety and elevated
ground, extending to the hills on the western side of
Captain Cook Highway, and representative strata of
socio-economic circumstances. A return rate of
72 per cent and attrition rate of only 28 per cent were
surprisingly good for a survey-based study, reflecting
a drop-off/pick-up procedure and careful nonreturn
follow-up, as well as impressive co-operation and
interest on the part of residents of these Northern Beach
The 1996/1997 cyclone season
in Cairns
The initiating of the preseason community survey was
delayed by a late funding decision in December of 1996.
The survey was nonetheless undertaken between the
14th and the 21st of December, 1996, in Cairns, North
Queensland. While the original research intention was
to collect pre-event data in both Cairns and Townsville,
thereby maximising the opportunity of encountering a
threat situation, ultimate funding and timing did not
allow for this more comprehensive undertaking. One
half of the 440 households surveyed at this point in
time, the treatment and pre-test control groups, received
a copy of the psychological preparedness guide. The
objective was to re-administer a post-event version of
the survey following a severe cyclone warning situation.
While a number of cyclone warning situations did
include the Cairns region over January of 1997, none
were of a magnitude or proximity to justify
implementing the post-event survey until the Cyclone
Justin warning situation occurred on 7 March, as an
extensive system being experienced over most of the
Coral Sea. This system intensified to a severe category 3
cyclone off the coast of southeast Papua New Guinea on
17 March. The difficult decision was when to administer
the post-event survey in this situation, given the
extended duration of the warning period and the erratic
nature of Cyclone Justin. (See Figure 1). An important
concern was that a too immediate distribution of the
survey following a physical impact would be intrusive,
insensitive, and counterproductive. A decision was
finally made to administer the post-event survey on the
13th of March, following Met Bureau advice that the
cyclone was moving out to sea and towards Papua New
Guinea. It was also felt that the severity of an imminent
and threatening category 3 cyclone impacting on the
Cairns region was more than adequate to evaluate the
effectiveness of the psychological preparedness guide,
and the judgement was made that the integrity of the
study would have been compromised if much more time
had elapsed while waiting for a final resolution of
Cyclone Justin's course. What must, of course, be
factored into the results is the fact that Cairns residents
were theoretically still in a cyclone threat situation when
completing the post-event questionnaires, and, in fact,
Cyclone Justin did return to pass right over Cairns,
albeit at diminished strength, on the 22nd of March.
Respondents therefore completed their post-event
questionnaire approximately three months after the
pre-season survey, and following six days of a very large
cyclone system sitting off the coast of Cairns, with
attendant watches and warnings.
The Australian Journal of Emergency Management, Vol. 18 No. 2, May 2003
Table 1: Research design.
Pre-Season Psychological Severe Cyclone Post-Event
Survey Only Preparedness Warning Survey
Intervention Situation
Group 1
Intervention O1X1X2O2
Group 2
Control O1X2O2
Group 3
Hanging Control X2O2
O1= pre-season survey, X1= psychological guide,
X2= Justin warnings and threat situation, O2= post-event survey
Wave action and seaspray along the foreshore near Cairns
Courtesy of Bureau of Meterology Queensland.
The Australian Journal of Emergency Management, Vol. 18 No 2. May 2003
The meaningfulness of the results of a study such as this
depends in part on the comparability of the treatment
and control groups prior to an investigated event or
intervention. The research groups did differ significantly
with respect to gender and education. This was
particularly the case for the hanging control group,
which was characterised by a higher proportion of
female respondents (61 per cent vs 51 per cent and
53 per cent) and residents with secondary education
(61 per cent vs 55 per cent and 45 per cent) as
contrasted with the intervention and control groups.
As subsequent ANOVA tests evidenced no significant
differences between the education groups in cyclone
preparedness or response, it was considered that the
variance in education profile did not materially influence
other comparisons in the reported analyses. Gender
differences are a concern, however, as gender features as
an important variable in subsequent analyses, for
example, with respect to reported prior traumatic
experience. No significant differences were found
between intervention, control and hanging control
groups with respect to age, cyclone experience, years
lived in Cairns or North Queensland, pre-cyclone season
physical preparedness, or with respect to the personality
trait of anxiety. Notwithstanding this absence of
statistically significant differences, a further noteworthy
difference between the intervention and control groups
was that whereas 52 per cent of the intervention group
had prior direct experience with cyclones, 62 per cent of
the control group reported such prior experience.
As well the pre-cyclone physical preparedness score of
the intervention group was slightly better than that for
the control group (14.7 vs 13.2), a matter addressed
later by a consideration of relative changes in physical
preparedness for each group. The chance but
consequential differences in the hanging control group
with respect to the relative proportion of male and
female respondents were substantial enough to warrant
its non-inclusion in group comparisons relating to the
effectiveness of the psychological preparedness
intervention in the following analyses and discussion.
Intervention and control
group comparisons
Several initial and important questions in the pre-season
questionnaire related to how concerned residents were
at the beginning of the cyclone season. More specifically,
residents were asked to indicate how concerned,
confident, frightened, anxious, and helpless they felt via
standard six-point semantic differential rating scales.
They were also asked these questions immediately after
the Cyclone Justin warning situation. Answers to these
initial survey questions allowed the researchers to
document what has been an area of guesswork rather
than fact, i.e., how people are feeling and thinking
coming into the cyclone season (in this instance toward
the end of December), and to compare that with their
feelings and thoughts immediately after the cyclone
warning situation. There does exist some comparative
data from Cyclone Joy for the Cairns region, where
survey results following Joy indicated that 36 per cent of
Figure 1: The story of Cyclone Justin
Courtesy of Bureau of Meterology Queensland.
The Australian Journal of Emergency Management, Vol. 18 No. 2, May 2003
respondents had been ‘very worried’ and 31 per cent
‘somewhat worried’ about Joy (Smithson, 1991).
The results of the pre-season and post-Justin survey
responses to the above items are presented in Table 2.
These findings tell us that the majority of residents in
both the intervention and control groups were
moderately concerned and anxious at the beginning of
the cyclone season, but reported feeling somewhat less
frightened and helpless at this point in time, and their
rated confidence was at least modest.
It is clear that these feelings were appreciably
heightened during the Cyclone Justin warning situation.
The data also tells us that there were considerable
individual differences here, with some individuals
evidencing high levels of anxiety and helplessness both
at the beginning of the cyclone season and during
Cyclone Justin. Significant differences in changed
emotional state were found for concern and confidence
during the cyclone warning period, with those
individuals using the guide expressing less concern
overall and greater confidence.
All of the changes shown in Table 2 were significant,
with the exception of intervention group concern level,
which remained stable. These changes were largely as
expected and in a logical direction, with anxiety and fear
dropping with the actual occurrence of an anticipated
event that was relatively benign and supposedly over.
As well, there is some evidence that the pre-season
survey constituted a modest intervention in itself for the
control group. What is of particular importance,
however, is that the relative magnitude of change
between intervention and control groups was
significantly and substantially different for reported
levels of concern and confidence, with control
respondents reporting a significant increase in concern,
and intervention respondents showing steady but not
increasing levels of concern as well as an increase in
confidence which was more than twice that for the
control group. See Figures 2 and 3. This provides strong
support for the effectiveness of the psychological
preparedness guide.
What was of particular relevance to the research was
whether those individuals who received and used the
psychological guide were able to manage their feelings
better during the Cyclone Justin situation. The stress
inoculation training intervention is essentially an
emotion management training technique. If we compare
the intervention group with the control group on these
measures, taken immediately after the more acute
warning period of Cyclone Justin, it is clear that the use
of the guide was effective in managing levels of concern
and in increasing levels of confidence. While the
changes in levels of reported anxiety, fear, and
helplessness do not differ appreciably between the
control and the intervention group, it is important to
remember that the objective of the psychological
preparedness intervention was to enhance the
anticipation, identification, and management of emotional
responses. It was not intended to reduce the anxiety and
apprehension which are normal and adaptive human
responses to a threatening emergency situation. As well,
the air of emergency at the time of post-event survey
was substantially reduced, as there was a palpable sense
Table 2: Mean rated emotional states at the beginning of the cyclone
season and after Cyclone Justin.
Intervention Group (n=137)
Mean Mean Mean Standard Cohens
Pre-season Post-event Change Error dtp
Rating Rating
Anxiety 3.05 2.69 -.36 .14 .44 2.52 .013
Fear 2.54 2.13 -40 .12 .58 3.31 .001
Concern 3.25 3.25 0 .16 .01 .05 ns
Confidence 3.84 4.60 +.75 .13 -.86 -5.8 .000
Helpless 2.43 1.81 -.62 .13 .83 4.8 .000
Control Group (n = 138-140)
Anxiety 3.05 2.63 -.42 .14 .25 2.88 .005
Fear 2.58 2.16 -.41 .13 .26 3.05 .003
Concern 3.16 3.63 +.47 .16 -.24 -3.01 .003
Confidence 3.79 4.15 +.36 .15 -.23 -2.45 .016
Helpless 2.40 1.81 -.57 .13 .38 4.37 .000
Note: Cohen’s ‘d’ provides an index of effect size independent of sample size or differing units of measure (e.g.,
Cohen, 1988; Shaughnessy et al., 2000).
The Australian Journal of Emergency Management, Vol. 18 No 2. May 2003
of relief in the community with the issuing of Met
Bureau bulletins to the effect that the cyclone was
heading out to sea.
Another straightforward and pragmatic set of questions
had to do with whether respondents were reasonably
prepared with respect to physical preparations at the
beginning of the cyclone season, and whether those
respondents who received and used the psychological
guide were better prepared than the control group at the
time of the post-Justin survey. One of the arguments
being explored was that anxiety and fear could be
getting in the way of physical preparedness, and that
poor physical preparedness also reflected the use of a
variety of maladaptive defence mechanisms and
distorting beliefs for dealing with anxieties and concerns
(e.g., Reser, 1980; Reser & Morrissey, 1995). Physical
preparedness items are shown in Table 3.
These physical preparedness measures were similar to
measures used by many other researchers in this area,
but included more specificity with respect to whether
the item needed attention, whether some actual
preparedness activity had taken place, or whether the
preparedness measure was completed. The items
allowed for a reasonably sensitive composite index of
physical preparedness which could be calculated for the
beginning of the cyclone season and at the time of the
post-event survey (score range was 0–24). The mean
physical preparedness score for the intervention and the
control group were 14.70 and 13.23 at the beginning of
the cyclone season, and 18.85 and 15.00, respectively, at
the time of the post-Justin survey.
Table 3: Preparedness activity checklist.
Cyclone preparedness activity Need attention Begun attending to this Completed this activity
Cleaned the yard
Purchased new batteries
Purchased emergency food supplies
Checked or purchased first aid kit
Checked battery function of radio
Checked for containers of water
Filled a spare petrol can
Checked for candles
Checked gas cylinder
Carefully read through cyclone
preparedness pamphlet
Checked emergency numbers
Checked radio frequencies
Estimated Marginal Means
Estimated Marginal Means
Figures 2 and 3: Mean change scores in rated concern and confidence
from pre-season survey to post-Justin survey.
The Australian Journal of Emergency Management, Vol. 18 No. 2, May 2003
It is clear that respondents were reasonably prepared at
the beginning of the cyclone season, and that residents
in the intervention group reported a modestly higher
level of physical preparedness than those in the control
group at the beginning of the cyclone season. This
relatively high level of physical preparedness contrasts
with media statements during this 1996/1997 season
that the Cairns community was, once again, poorly
prepared for the cyclone season. It is also clear that
levels of preparedness were significantly improved at the
time of the post-event survey for both groups.
See Figure 4.
These improvements are not surprising in that Cyclone
Justin would have motivated many, if not most,
residents to get serious about preparedness. Changes
between the pre and post-event scores for the
intervention group as compared with the control group
are, however, of particular interest. The appreciable and
significant difference found between intervention group
improvement and control group improvement, a score
change of 4.15 versus 1.77 (p <.000), provides strong
support for the effectiveness of the psychological guide.
This is a particularly strong finding given the relatively
high level of reported physical preparedness at the
beginning of the cyclone season, which created,
arguably, something of a ceiling effect. Across both
groups, the improvement in physical preparedness was
significantly less for those respondents reporting prior
traumatic cyclone experience.
An interesting comparison was the difference between
the physical preparedness scores of the intervention
group and the hanging control group at the time of the
post-event survey, as this control group had no exposure
to our pre-season survey, which arguably could have
constituted an influential intervention in itself. The
preparedness score for the hanging control group
was 16.43, which was significantly lower than the
intervention group but actually higher than the pre-test
control group, i.e., the hanging control group reported
being somewhat better prepared than the pre-test
control group (at the time of the post-Justin survey).
This could suggest that the heightening of threat
salience and provision of preparedness information,
in this case through the completion of the pre-season
survey, but without psychological advice, might have
actually diminished ultimate preparedness.
Of related interest was whether respondents felt
psychologically prepared for the cyclone season and the
specific warning situation of Justin. The discussion
earlier examined levels of reported concern, anxiety and
confidence, and how these changed for the intervention
and control groups between the time of the pre-season
survey and the post-Justin survey. In addition,
respondents were asked, at the time of the post-Justin
survey, how confident they felt about being able to cope
with another serious cyclone situation and whether they
thought it was possible to exercise any personal control
over the impact of a cyclone on themselves or their
families. The findings in Table 5 again suggest strong
support for the effectiveness of the psychological guide.
Intervention respondents reported feeling significantly
more confident about being able to cope with another
serious cyclone situation, they reported that they felt it
was more possible to exercise personal control over the
impact of a cyclone (although this difference did not
achieve significance), and they reported experiencing
less concern about the threat of another cyclone.
An additional set of survey questions explored
psychological preparedness with respect to a number of
specific predictions relating to the psychological guide.
The rationale for the stress inoculation training
intervention that was provided was that it should enable
Table 4: Physical preparedness at the beginning of the cyclone season
and following Cyclone Justin.
Pre-season Post Justin Change Std Error Cohens t p
Score Score d
Intervention group
(n = 131) 14.70 18.85 4.15 .43 1.95 -8.64 .000
Control group
(n = 141) 13.23 15.00 1.77 .53 .70 -3.05 .003
Estimated Marginal Means
Figure 4: Mean change in
physical preparedness from
pre-season to post-Justin.
The Australian Journal of Emergency Management, Vol. 18 No 2. May 2003
Table 5: Rated confidence, personal control, and concern with respect
to another serious cyclone event this season.
Intervention Control Std Cohenst p
Group Group error d
n = 140 n = 137
How confident at being
able to cope 5.07 4.54 .146 .39 3.63 .000
How possible to exercise
personal control 4.83 4.61 .161 .15 1.42 .156
How concerned about
another threat 3.05 3.47 .195 -.26 -2.18 .003
Table 6: Reported effectiveness ratings of stress inoculation on
specific components of stress inoculation.
Intervention Control Std Cohenst p
Group Group error d
n = 138-141 n = 135-137
Anticipate feelings 4.08 3.23 .21 .65 4.06 .000
Identify feelings 4.08 3.24 .22 .62 3.76 .000
Manage feelings 5.05 4.81 .16 .21 1.50 .135
Table 7: Reported utility of psychological preparedness guide.
n % (%) Missing
Not at all useful 10 7% 18%
Somewhat useful 60 40%
Very useful 48 34%
Didnt provide any new strategies 29 20% 19.4%
Provided some new strategies 62 44%
Provided many new strategies 25 17.5%
participants to better anticipate their feelings in a cyclone
warning situation, to better identify particular feelings,
and to better manage these feelings. All respondents
were asked these questions at the time of the post-event
survey, directly following their experience with Cyclone
Justin. The results for both the intervention and the
control groups are presented in Table 6.
The results are very clear. Respondents who used the
guide reported being better able to anticipate how they
would feel and that they were better able to identify
particular feelings. While the intervention group also
reported being able to manage their feelings better, this
effect was not as marked. There are several points that
should be kept in mind in interpreting this latter
finding. Such evaluative and reflective self-report items
are reasonably different in nature than simpler
descriptive self-report items. This makes it somewhat
more difficult to interpret and evaluate these statements.
Are individuals, for example, able to judge accurately a
modest and diffuse improvement in ‘emotion
management’ abilities?
A further set of questions directly asked intervention
respondents about their use of the psychological guide
and its relative effectiveness and utility. The results are
presented in Table 7.
It is clear that 74 per cent of intervention group
respondents felt that the guide was useful, with over one
third of respondents finding it ‘very useful’.
Intervention participants were also asked whether the
guide made them feel more or less anxious during the
recent cyclone. This item was measured using a 6-point
Likert-type scale where ‘1’ indicated less anxiety and ‘6’
indicates greater anxiety. More than 60% of respondents
reported feeling less anxious (scoring 1, 2 or 3 on the
scale), 14 per cent scored a ‘4’ on the scale, and only
4 per cent indicated a ‘5’ on the scale, with none of the
participants reporting greater anxiety (‘6’ on the scale).
Clearly the above findings relate to self-report items that
must be interpreted with caution, but they do reflect the
considered judgement of all of those respondents who
trialed the psychological guide during an eventful
cyclone season. These questions also provide additional
The Australian Journal of Emergency Management, Vol. 18 No. 2, May 2003
and convergent support for the findings examined
earlier. They indicate that intervention respondents used
the guide during the cyclone season, that such use made
them feel less anxious, and that the guide provided them
with new and helpful strategies for managing their
feelings during the Cyclone Justin warning situation.
The post-Justin survey for the intervention group
included two items asking whether the psychological
preparedness guide provided them with any new
strategies for managing their feelings during the cyclone
warning situation, and to describe these new strategies.
The mean rating for this first item, going from ‘not at all’
to ‘a great deal’ suggests that respondents did learn a
number of new coping strategies. The kinds of written
responses received included repeated reference to self-
talk and calming exercises, as well as normalising one’s
feelings. These responses are very congruent with the
nature of the psychological advice and strategies
included in the preparedness guide.
“We talked a lot more about our feelings”
“I talked to myself and others about what we
could do to stay safe”
“Felt good knowing that being anxious is ok”
“The guide made my feelings feel normal. I don’t
feel so isolated”
“Talked about the feelings that occurred instead of
pretending they were not there”
“Think things through – don’t panic”
While it is questionable that these were entirely “new
strategies’, e.g., many respondents may have simply
learned how to better anticipate and identify particular
feelings, it seems clear that the guide facilitated
respondents actually using these procedures and feeling
better about doing so.
Did the psychological guide help
some people more than others?
An important aspect of this research concerned whether
the psychological preparedness guide was differentially
effective for different types of individuals. There are
multiple theoretical reasons for expecting that the stress
inoculation and management components of the
psychological preparedness material might be less
effective for individuals characterised by moderate to
high chronic anxiety and/or prior and traumatic cyclone
or other natural disaster experience (e.g., Gibbs, 1989;
Gist & Lubin, 1989; Lazarus, 1991; Myers, 1994,
NAMHC, 1996; Russell, Goltz & Bourrque, 1995;
Watson & Clark, 1984). Briefly, these theoretical
arguments relate to the fact that chronically anxious or
previously traumatised individuals might well need
more assistance than that which a brief self-instruction
guide on managing emotions might be able to provide.
As well it was possible that the stress induction
component of an SIT intervention might have
heightened anxiety for those ‘normally high anxious’
respondents to an extent that self-directed cognitive
behavioural management techniques might not have
been sufficient. It was also the case that the overall level
of preparedness for more highly anxious individuals or
those with prior traumatic cyclone experience might be
expected to be relatively low, possibly reflecting selective
avoidance strategies and an escalating experience of
anticipatory stress and panic.
Variables of particular note that were examined in this
study included the demographic variables of age,
education and gender; the ‘personality’ variables of trait
anxiety, coping style, optimism-pessimism, and self-
efficacy; and the situational variables of knowledge, prior
cyclone experience, threat appraisal, and perceived
control. The two variables of particular relevance to the
differential efficacy of the intervention, and to the
hypothesised vulnerability of particular residents were
the personality variable of trait anxiety and the person-
situation variable of prior experience. Previous research
has shown that trait anxiety is positively associated with
experienced stress in an emergency situation and
inversely related to physical preparedness (e.g., De Man
& Simpson-Housley, 1987, 1988; Dooley et al., 1992).
Research which has examined the role of prior
experience in disaster preparedness and response
(e.g., Baker, 1989; Faupel & Stiles, 1993; Nielson &
Lidstone, 1998; Riad & Norris, 1998; Sattler, Adams
& Watts, 1995; Smithson, 1991) has reported very
mixed findings, suggesting that experience contributes
to better preparedness under some circumstances and
conditions, but not in others. The previous findings for
Cairns and Townsville residents were that prior
experience did not appear to be related to preparedness
(Smithson, 1991). This aspect of the current study
particularly addressed whether the psychological
preparedness guide was less helpful for those residents
who normally experienced moderate to high anxiety and
for those individuals who had prior but very stressful
experience with cyclone situations (Walsh, 1999).
The focus of the data analyses relating to whether the
psychological preparedness guide worked better for
some residents than others was the intervention group.
Some information on this group is helpful. It is
noteworthy that 65 individuals in the intervention group
(44.5 per cent) reported no prior cyclone experience.
Respondents were asked, “Have you personally
experienced a severe cyclone warning situation?”, and
then asked, “Have you personally experienced a cyclone
event?”, with a description of the event requested. This
made it possible to establish which respondents had
actually been in more than a warning situation. Seventy-
two percent of the intervention group (105 individuals)
reported having experienced a severe cyclone warning
situation previously. Fifty-five percent reported that they
had more direct experience with a ‘cyclone event’. Of
those 81 intervention group respondents reporting prior
The Australian Journal of Emergency Management, Vol. 18 No 2. May 2003
cyclone experience, one half (40) indicated that this
experience was highly stressful, i.e., they gave a rating of
either ‘5’ or ‘6’ on a six point impact of event scale going
from ‘1’ (not at all stressful) to ‘6’ (very stressful). These
figures provide an interesting profile of an unbiased
sample of northern beach community Cairns residents
with respect to anxiety and experience. What is clear is
that many residents had no prior experience of an actual
‘cyclone event’, and of those who did, at least half
reported the experience to have been very stressful and
possibly traumatic.
None of the demographic variables explored were
significantly related to physical or psychological
preparedness, the principal measures of intervention
effectiveness, with the exception of gender, with women
reporting that they experienced more stress during the
Cyclone Justin warning, while men reported feeling
more psychologically prepared. In these individual
difference analyses psychological preparedness was
measured by a composite ‘psychological preparedness’
score utilising the summed individual self-ratings of
concern, confidence, anxiety, helplessness, and fear
(see Walsh, 1999).
An examination of the personality variables measured
identified 20.6 per cent residents in the intervention
group as ‘highly anxious’. The personality measure
employed was the PANAS scale (Watson & Clark, 1984,
Watson, Clark & Tellegen, 1988) and respondents were
classified as falling into three anxiety groups depending
upon whether their scores fell into the upper quartile,
mid quartiles, or lower quartile of the trait negative
affect scores (with score range of 10–28). The number
of individuals falling into the lower quartile, ‘low-
anxiety’ group was 41(28.1 per cent), the number
categorised as ‘moderately anxious’ was 75
(51.3 per cent), and the number labelled as highly
anxious was 30 (20.6 per cent). These respondents
classified as being highly anxious with respect to trait
anxiety had scores greater than 18.
All personality variables explored, trait anxiety, coping
style and prior cyclone experience, were found to
significantly influence physical preparedness and
psychological preparedness. The results confirm that
lower physical preparedness scores were found for
highly anxious individuals, for those who often use
avoidant coping strategies, and for those with prior and
traumatic cyclone experience. The results also confirm
that anxiety level and prior experience interact, with
high anxious individuals with prior traumatic
experience evidencing the lowest physical preparedness
levels. These results were very similar for psychological
preparedness, with the highest psychological
preparedness scores being those for the low anxious,
active coping, and no prior experience groups, whereas
the lowest psychological preparedness scores were
found for the high anxious group, high users of
avoidance, and prior traumatic experience groups. Again
anxiousness, avoidant coping, and prior traumatic
experience were found to significantly interact with each
other, with the lowest psychological preparedness scores
being evidenced by those highly anxious individuals
with prior traumatic experience and an avoidant coping
style (see Walsh, 1999 for more details).
Psychological preparedness
and vulnerability
There has been a strong consensus among clinical and
counselling psychologists and other mental health
professionals for many years to the effect that adequate
information and preparation for recurrent natural
disasters can empower individuals and assist in the
prevention of physical and psychological devastation
and distress (e.g., Dudley-Grant et al., 2000; Gist &
Lubin, 1989; Gist & Stolz, 1982; Lindell & Perry, 1992;
Myers, 1994). This consensus is mirrored in the
sociological risk communication literature (e.g., Covello,
McCallum & Pavlova, 1989; Drabek, 1986; Mileti
& Sorensen, 1990; Tierney, 1993). An extensive
theoretical and research literature addresses the value
of such ‘critical incident stress training’ for emergency
workers, both before and after disaster relief and
recovery involvement (e.g., Dyregrov, 1989; Mitchell,
1983; Mitchell & Bray, 1990). Nonetheless there have
Psychological Preparedness Kit for Natural Disaster Warnings and
Natural Disasters following from Cyclone Justin research project
The Australian Journal of Emergency Management, Vol. 18 No. 2, May 2003
been very few published discussions of what this
actually means in practice for those who are not
emergency workers, or how psychological preparedness
might be operationalised and enhanced in a community
preparedness and preventive context. There have also
been very few published research findings relating to
psychological intervention outcome studies particularly
focused on natural disaster public education or warning
situations. This may reflect, in part, the overwhelming
weight of evidence and professional experience and
judgement in other areas with respect to the preventive
value of stress inoculation and general emotion
management knowledge in emergency situations.
It also reflects the difficulty of undertaking intervention-
focused outcome studies in the context of unpredictable
natural hazards.
A core construct and parameter in natural disaster
prevention and mitigation considerations is vulnerability
(e.g., Blaikie et al., 1994; Briere, 1995, Buckle, Mars,
& Smale, 2000; Cutter, 1993; King & MacGregor, 2000,
Salter, 1997). Indeed, this notion has taken on new
meaning and life as a key indicator in both risk
assessment and the mapping of risk via GIS and other
risk representation strategies. Unfortunately these risk
management and emergency management discourses
make little if any reference to psychological vulnerability
or the extensive psychological and health literatures on
vulnerability and resilience (e.g., Dohrenwend
& Dohrenwend, 1974, 1981; Freedy et al., 1993;
Hodgkinson & Stewart, 1991; Katschnigi, 1986; Lazarus
& Folkman, 1984; Yager, et al., 1984; McFarlane, 1988,
1989; Monat & Lazarus, 1991; NAMHC, 1996;
Spacapan & Thompson, 1991; Zeidner & Endler,
1996). The current research findings and those of many
others document the critical importance of psychological
mediators of vulnerability and ultimate preparedness
and successful coping. These include personality factors
such as trait anxiety and coping style, and situational
variables such as the nature and extent of prior natural
disaster experience and perceived risk. Our current
research would indicate that anxiousness and prior
traumatic experience are particularly important
psychological variables which should be factored into
any assessment of ‘community vulnerability’. These
variables in particular appear to reduce the efficacy of
a psychological preparedness intervention such as that
trialed, notwithstanding its overall positive role in
enhancing community physical and psychological
preparedness. Such psychological indicators are
measurable, and allow for identification beforehand of
those individuals and households likely to be poorly
prepared in the event of a cyclone warning situation. It
is also the case that it is just such psychological factors
relating to chronic anxiety and critical incident distress
that are specifically addressed by more focused and
intensive anxiety and stress management interventions.
The understandable societal and agency preoccupation
with community intervention and recovery in the
aftermath of natural disaster events has tended to eclipse
the far more extensive human impact of severe warnings
and near misses, as in the case of cyclone warnings in a
cyclone prone region such as northern coastal Australia.
The social science research literature on human response
to natural and technological environmental threat clearly
documents the powerful psychological impacts of
perceived threats (e.g., Baum & Fleming. 1993, Lehman
& Taylor, 1986; Cvetkovich & Earle, 1992; Turner,
Nigg & Heller Paz, 1986; Wandersman & Hallman,
1993). Indeed the burgeoning literature on risk
perception, assessment and communication largely
reflects this new understanding that perception is reality
and that the warning situation itself can in fact be more
distressing than impact, and can have dramatic and long
lasting psychological and social impacts (e.g., O’Riordan,
1995; Slovic, 1987, 2000). The research focus of the
present study was on the effectiveness of a particular
psychological intervention in helping residents manage
their emotional response which were hindering adaptive
physical preparedness. The research findings, however,
with respect to the nature, severity and extent of
emotional distress, both before and during a severe
cyclone warning situation, and the lasting impact of
previous traumatic experience, suggest that a pervasive
natural disaster impact, currently neither recognised
nor addressed, is the impact of severe cyclone warning
situations on individuals and communities. These
impacts are both serious and consequential, not only in
terms of psychological well being and mental health, but
because these impacts very directly influence future
preparedness and vulnerability (e.g., Reser, 1996).
Cyclones can be particularly distressing for children
The Australian Journal of Emergency Management, Vol. 18 No 2. May 2003
From a public health perspective it is useful to know
that the guide was helpful and improved physical and
psychological preparedness for most residents. From a
vulnerability perspective it is helpful to know that there
are many residents whose chronic anxiety level, coping
style, and/or prior traumatic experience with cyclones
appears to reduce the overall effectiveness of the guide.
It is important to reiterate that fully one half of those
residents reporting prior direct cyclone experience
found this experience to be highly stressful, and that
the proportion of residents who would appear to be
prone to high anxiety is reasonably high, one out of five.
It was also quite evident in this study that most people
were actually quite worried about Cyclone Justin, with
situation-precipitated anxiety being widespread.
These individual difference findings, along with the
intervention and control group comparisons, clearly
suggest that there are a large number of individuals
who, for reasons of temperament and past experience,
find a cyclone warning situation to be particularly
stressful and one for which they are typically less well-
prepared, physically or psychologically, than other
residents. These individuals may benefit from being
targeted in future preparedness studies, utilising
a more complex intervention (e.g., participation in
a group anxiety management and cyclone
preparedness program, facilitated by a community
mental health professional).
Final window on findings
A final window on what this extensive data set
suggests is provided by how people felt when it
looked like Cyclone Justin was not going to actually
impact on the Cairns region and was heading out
to sea. We were particularly interested in whether most
people would experience such a situation with a
mixture of relief and disappointment, and whether it
would be experienced as a near miss or a false alarm.
Our own view is that media coverage can strongly
influence how people feel following a cyclone warning
situation, and that it is vital that preparedness
behaviours are reinforced and validated by the media
following a serious warning situation. It was pleasing to
find that 84 per cent of respondents felt that Cyclone
Justin was a ‘close call’ or ‘near miss’ situation as
distinct from a ‘false alarm’. This would indicate that
they felt good about their preparedness activities, and
that this behaviour was validated by their overall
experience during and following the cyclone threat. That
16 per cent of respondents would have viewed the
Cyclone Justin warning situation as an over-reaction and
a false alarm is still quite worrying, but it doesn’t
coincide with some problematic media coverage
suggesting that the cyclone was a ‘fizzer’.
Implications and recommendations for
natural disaster public education,
warning messages and procedures
The research undertaken was in the context of a tropical
cyclone warning situation in Far North Queensland.
Any generalisations to other disaster warning situations
and circumstances must be done with this qualification
in mind. Natural disasters are quite different in many
respects, and elicit rather different human responses to
risk communications concerning an impending or
potential threat (e.g., Bell et al., 2000; Cvetkovich &
Earle, 1992; Quarantelli, 1998). Indeed, Quarantelli
argues that physical parameters are not sufficient to
define and differentiate natural disasters and that a more
informative and useful taxonomy and yardstick is with
respect to the nature and extent of disruptive impact on
the community itself. All of this suggests some caution
in generalising findings from a community and regional
context such as coastal North Queensland where
cyclones are an integral part of ‘living in the north’. In
particular, communities in cyclone prone regions tend
to establish a culture of anticipation and concern, if not
preparedness, which influences how disaster
preparedness communications are perceived and
responded to (e.g., Sims & Bauman, 1972; Renn &
Rohrman, 2000; Riad & Norris, 1998, 1999). Similarly
individuals living in such regions develop their own
personal and prior experience-influenced response
pattern to impending cyclone threat, with this particular
event having very event-specific meanings and
implications. We note this, in part, because the findings
of this research are being applied to other natural
disaster situations in the context of an underlying and
widespread ‘all-hazard’ approach to natural disaster
warning messages and materials in Australia.
One of the most important implications of these
research findings is a non-obvious one. We have
evaluated the utility of psychological content in
community education and preparedness materials, but
what happens when such information is not there? The
current findings strongly suggest that the provision of
preparedness information which heightens the salience,
nature, likelihood and magnitude of a natural disaster,
without providing adequate and concrete information
about what to do and how to deal with such a situation,
is likely to result in either a diminished adaptive
response to the risk communication or an erosion of
existing preparedness motivation and resolve. The data
for the second or hanging control group with respect to
physical and psychological preparedness indicated that
those residents who did not complete a pre-season
questionnaire were in fact marginally better prepared
physically and psychologically than the control group
which completed the pre-season questionnaire. This
suggests that heightening the salience and need for
natural disaster preparedness, without providing
psychological advice and strategies, can in fact be
neutralising or even counterproductive with respect to
individual and community preparedness. While almost
The Australian Journal of Emergency Management, Vol. 18 No. 2, May 2003
all natural disaster education and warning materials do
include advice and strategies with respect to physical
preparedness, almost none include information and
advice with respect to psychological preparedness.
It is arguable that managing one’s own psychological
response to a disaster preparedness message or warning,
or the emotional response of others, is at least of equal
importance to actual physical preparedness advice, and
that the absence of such advice substantially reduces the
effectiveness of the physical preparedness advice and
recommendations. This appears to be particularly true
for those moderate to high anxious individuals for
whom the cyclone season is a source of considerable
concern and anxiety, and who, in effect, are
most vulnerable.
The argument and the psychological processes involved
in risk communication appraisal and response and
preparedness activities are somewhat more involved
than may be immediately apparent. Our research
findings over the past 20 years with cyclone warning
preparations suggest that many people are unprepared
for the elevated anxiety and concern which accompanies
the thinking through and carrying out of standard
physical preparedness advice. This anxiety is often
unrecognised as such, but is nonetheless distressing,
and a common response for many residents is to simply
think about other things or stop doing whatever
preparedness activity they may have commenced (for
example, battening down, checking emergency supplies,
or writing down radio station frequencies and
emergency service numbers (e.g., Reser, 1980). Anxiety
and fear do not just accompany the reading through
and thinking about preparedness advice or warning
bulletins; it is often an integral and powerful
accompaniment to preparedness activities themselves,
with these feelings and the activity itself conferring a
particular reality and salience to the threat. The clear
implication of this argument and both past and current
research evidence is that the inclusion of psychological
advice about how to anticipate, recognise, and cope with
one’s own emotional response to a cyclone threat will
enhance the effectiveness of conventional and existing
public education and warning materials. The absence of
such advice may well diminish and compromise the
effectiveness and utility of such materials.
Further effective research on cyclone preparedness and
human response to risk communications requires a
longer-term research investment and strategic planning.
In many ways the most valuable research being
undertaken in North America in natural disaster
preparedness is that which has targeted particular cities
and catchment areas for longitudinal panel studies
(e.g., Riad & Norris, 1998; Riad, Norris & Rubak, 1999;
Mileti & Fitzpatrick, 1993). Such research initiatives
can build up a database and profile of communities,
can establish the reliability and appropriateness of
measurement, can have in place a methodology and set
of procedures for data collection in the event of a
warning period or an actual disaster, and can more
clearly monitor and assess the experiences over time of
particular individuals, households and communities.
The far north coast of North Queensland provides an
ideal location for such programmatic research and
evaluation studies, given the foundation provided by the
Centre of Disaster Studies, the composite risk profile of
Cairns produced by the Australian Geological Survey
Organisation (e.g., Granger et al., 1999), the lead role
which has been taken by the Queensland Bureau of
Meteorology, and the strong support and commitment of
local authorities, such as the Cairns City Council.
The research provides convincing support for the
effectiveness of the modified stress inoculation
intervention in an actual cyclone threat circumstance.
The research design and methodology provided for a
very credible and comprehensive evaluation of the
psychological preparedness guide, within the constraints
of a single study and an ongoing natural disaster
situation, and the research data shed considerable light
on the nature of residents’ cognitive, emotional and
behavioural responses and experience at the beginning
of the cyclone season and following a severe cyclone
warning period. The investment of time, energy and
resources in studying the pre-disaster situation and
psychological preparedness as well as physical
preparedness has proven to be of substantial value
and benefit.
The research findings and substantial media and
conference coverage have disseminated the message
that the pre-disaster situation, and in particular the
pre-cyclone season period, is a critically important time
and venue for prevention and mitigation, and that
psychological factors and processes during this threat
period are of singular importance to effective coping and
adaptive responding. The research has also clearly
indicated that there are a substantial number of
residents in cyclone-prone communities for whom
Anxiety accompanies preparedness and can interfere
The Australian Journal of Emergency Management, Vol. 18 No 2. May 2003
chronic anxiety, avoidant coping styles, and prior
traumatic experience constitute both a substantial
vulnerability factor and a genuine impediment to
psychological and physical preparedness. The clearly
psychological character of this research, the
intervention, and the expertise and training of the
researchers has served to highlight the importance of
professional psychological input as well as the need for
transdisciplinary and intersectorial collaboration in the
development of effective natural disaster mitigation
polices and programs. The findings of this research,
undertaken before, during, and following the onset of
Cyclone Justin, have allowed for the development of an
innovative series of warning statements and educational
messages which are being adopted by Emergency
Management Australia, and the preparation and
publication of a trainer’s manual for the facilitation
of training workshops focusing on community
psychological preparedness (Morrissey & Reser, 2000).
We have attempted to stress that this research study is in
many ways exceptional, due to its design, its focus, its
disciplinary base, and to the exceptional good fortune of
it having been undertaken in the right place at the right
time. The data reported here, and the convergent
evidence and argument of many other studies eloquently
make the case for including psychological advice in
natural disaster public education and warning messages
and materials. This is happening, here in Australia, to a
modest extent, with respect to all hazard brochures
produced by Emergency Management Australia. There
is nonetheless a pressing public need for more and
better advice on how to cope with and better manage
one’s own emotional and psychological response to
dramatic environmental threat or hazard, and that of
others. Such human responses constitute very genuine
impacts in themselves, whether the event is a serious
threat or a physical event, with these psychological
impacts often being very stressful, costly and
consequential in terms of individual and community
vulnerability and resilience.
This research project received critical funding and support
from the United Nation’s International Decade of Natural
Disaster Research (IDNDR) and Emergency Management
Australia (EMA). The authors of this report would like to
acknowledge the valuable advice and assistance provided by
Dr. David King and Linda Berry of the James Cook University
Centre for Disaster Studies, the support and assistance of the
Disaster Research Centre of the University of Delaware, and
the excellent logistical, technical and meteorological support
and assistance of the Queensland Bureau of Meteorology, and
in particular the assistance of Jim Davidson and Rex Falls.
Particular acknowledgement and thanks must go to Joanne
Walsh, who participated in this research project, both as
Bachelor of Psychology Honours student undertaking her final
year thesis study, and as a Research Assistant to the project.
Gratitude and thanks is also due to the fourth year psychology
students at James Cook University Cairns Campus who
provided considerable time, energy, and commitment to this
important project. These were Janette Bailey, Jason Ferris,
Glenda Gray-James, Ushi Lang, Kirsty McDougall, Fiona
Perrett, Anita Plesko, and Jeff Weatherby. Finally, this research
could not have been carried out without the truly marvellous
participation and assistance of the residents of the Cairns
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The Australian Journal of Emergency Management, Vol. 18 No 2. May 2003
Dr Shirley Morrissey is Adjunct Senior Lecturer in Psychology,
James Cook University. Ph: (08) 8945 1244; Fax: (08) 8945 1244;
Dr. Joseph P. Reser is an Emeritus at the University of Durham
(England). He is currently attached to the Centre for North
Australian and Asian Research, NTU. Ph: (08) 8946 6845;
Fax: (08) 8946 6977; Email:
... Kondisi ideal dalam menghadapi bencana adalah dengan mempersiapkan individu untuk memiliki kesiapsiagaan secara materil dan kesiapsiagaan secara psikologis. Menurut Morrissey & Reser (2003) kesiapsiagaan psikologis dipersiapkan sebelum dan selama musim bencana sehingga memungkinkan individu untuk mengantisipasi dan mengidentifikasi perasaan mereka dan untuk mengelola respons kognitif dan emosional, sehingga individu dapat lebih fokus pada kesiapsiagaan sesuai situasi dan mengurangi risiko cedera atau kematian. Pengurangan resiko dampak dari bencana termasuk resiko yang mungkin terjadi pada relawan mahasiswa. ...
... Sehingga pola kegiatan penanganan pandemi covid-19 dapat berlangsung untuk memberikan bantuan kepada mahasiswa terdampak yang membutuhkan. Kesiapsiagaan psikologis dapat dibentuk pada diri individu melalui pembentukan kesadaran (awareness) dengan mengelola pengetahuan, pemikiran, perhatian dan perasaan dalam didiri individu (Morrissey & Reser, 2003). Kesadaran yang dimiliki termasuk mengenai potensi bencana yang dapat terjadi pada diri individu dan lingkungan. ...
Full-text available
Student volunteers who are members of the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in Padjadjaran University aim to help students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The impact of the pandemic which resulted in physical and psychological problems that aroused the desire to help from student volunteers. This study aims to determine the relationship between psychological preparedness and adaptive behavior in student volunteers. This study uses a quantitative approach using a questionnaire as a research instrument. The study was carried out on 53 student volunteers who are members of the handling of the covid-19 pandemic. The data was processed using the Pearson's correlation statistical test and the results obtained r = 0.655 (ρ 0.000 < 0.05) which means that there is a positive and significant relationship between psychological preparedness to face disasters and the adaptive behavior of student volunteers. Student volunteers have the intention to become volunteers in the future with experience from handling the COVID-19 pandemic.
... Mohammed [41] assessed the seismic risk perception and preparedness of high school children and concluded that female students have a higher risk perception and preparedness. Morrissey & Reser [42] concluded that a higher level of psychological preparedness results in an increased level of physical preparedness. Similarly, Hoffmann & Muttarak [43] showed that a higher level of education is also linked with a higher level of disaster preparedness. ...
Pakistan is located in one of the most earthquake-prone regions of the world. The 2005 Muzaffarabad earthquake (Mw 7.6) resulted in massive destruction of the infrastructural facilities and significant social losses. In order to develop effective strategies to reduce the social, environmental, and economic losses from future destructive earthquakes, it is important to assess the level of earthquake preparedness in this region. This study evaluates potential association between perceived risk and earthquake preparedness at the household level in urban, peri-urban, and rural areas of Rawalakot – a city located in the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) region. Based on the Yamane method, 400 samples from urban, peri-urban, and rural study areas were collected using the random sampling technique. Primary data was collected from face-to-face interviews using structured questionnaires. An index-based approach was used to determine risk perception and preparedness indices. The overall level of risk perception and its important dimensions (fear, awareness, trust, and attitude) were quantified using a set of appropriate indicators. Linear regression model were used to find the significant variance in any relationship between risk perception and preparedness. The results revealed that risk perception is significantly influenced by the fear of future earthquakes, expected breakdown of supplies, and expected damage of the house structures. The study also found that risk perception and its various dimensions may significantly influence earthquake preparedness. The findings of this study can be used by the relevant authorities to devise integrated risk awareness and preparedness programs at the household level.
... Meichenbaum (2007) which proposes that exposing individuals to milder levels of stress would strengthen their coping with stress and foster resilience. This approach is used to increase the preparedness to handle natural disasters, cyclones etc. in the prone communities (Morrissey & Reser, 2003). ...
Resilience is broadly conceptualized as an individual's positive adaptation to adversity which includes not only functioning well under adversity and overcoming difficulties but also becoming stronger after that. Resilience has been theorized under three broad approaches, 1) as an outcome, 2) as a trait and 3) as a developmental process. Accordingly, the first set of research looks at outcomes after an adverse event (presence or absence of symptoms/distress and/or functioning, the second approach considers factors contributing to resilience and vulnerability, whereas the third approach looks at the process of developing and enhancing resilience. Blending of all these approaches is seen while formulating interventions for enhancing resilience. Mental health, happiness/ positive emotions, well-being/life satisfaction are considered as indicators of resilience. Mediating role of resilience in mental health and well-being has been established in the literature. Defining resilience for the purpose of research, assessment and formulation of intervention continues to be plagued with lack of clarity. However, the resilience-based interventions largely aim at prevention of mental health problems and promotion of well-being. Resilience-based interventions are carried out in individual and group formats with face-to-face and online modes. In addition, resilience interventions are used across age groups, settings and formats. These intervention programs are found to be helpful in increasing resilience, well-being, positive emotions, and coping across a number of groups such as students, working professionals, health service staff, individuals with medical and mental health conditions and those who work in emergency situations. Though resilience has been examined extensively, there is not enough clarity with respect to conceptualization, assessment, models of intervention and outcomes specific to resilience. Long-term studies for mental health outcomes are sparse. The chapter attempts to critically evaluate resilience with respect to the above-mentioned domains. Key words: Resilience, positive emotions, well-being, interventions, mental health
... For example, some of the individual-level protective factors include emotional and cognitive preparedness to face a natural or man-made disaster (Gabriel et al., 2007;Roudini et al., 2017), absence of pre-existing trauma and psychiatric history (Alvarez and Hunt, 2005;Esterwood and Saeed, 2020), good emotional regulation skills (Restubog et al., 2020;Wang et al., 2021), and sense of control during and after the disaster (Reich, 2006). At collective and societal levels, examples of protective factors include social support (Ehring et al., 2011;Huang et al., 2013;Pietrzak et al., 2014), community-level preparedness training (Morrissey and Reser, 2003), receiving post-disaster professional support (Tak et al., 2007;Brooks et al., 2016) and using social media as a source of information and psychological "first aid" (Finch et al., 2016;Yang et al., 2019). Social media were also used to cope with social isolation and feelings of loneliness in COVID-19 lockdown phases (Boursier et al., 2020), providing an "online community" that improved people's collective resilience (Marzouki et al., 2021). ...
... A unique study in the Australian context of a psychological preparedness approach for cyclone warning and response was reported by Morrissey and Reser (2003). The aim of the study was to trial, evaluate and refine an innovative natural disaster public education and warning communication intervention focusing on tropical cyclone preparedness and response ... (that) involved the dissemination of selected psychological information designed to enable individuals to better cope with themselves and others in an increasingly threatening situation. ...
Technical Report
This two-year project reviewed education, awareness and engagement (EAE) programs and activities designed to enhance community safety for natural hazards in Australia. The project was an outcome of the recommendations of the 2002 report to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) on Natural Disasters in Australia (published by the Australian Government Department of Transport and Regional Services, 2004). As part of the response to the report, the National Community Safety Working Group (NCSWG) of the Australian Emergency Management Committee (AEMC) commissioned a research team from the School of Global Studies, Social Science and Planning at RMIT University to review present community EAE practices in order to understand how they might be improved and more effectively tailored to suit State, Territory and local circumstances.
... This is inline with previous study that conducted by Morrissey and Resser in their study on the effectiveness of psychological preparedness advice in community cyclone preparedness materials. In this study they conclude that the demographic variables explored in there study including gender were not significantly related with psychological preparedness [20]. ...
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Indonesia geographical condition has made the country prone to disaster. The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) reported that there are 1.549 disasters happen in the first half of this year. One of global disaster that not only affect Indonesia but also country all around the globe is Covid-19 pandemi. The impact of the pandemi is not only experienced by highly developed world but also under developed world including Indonesia. Disaster in any form has bring a significant impact on individual mental health especially to the survivor. Study found that one of the factor that could reduce the psychological impact of disaster is psychologica preparedness for disaster. It is also state in the previous study that gender has play a role inidividual psychological peparedness. Athough there had been several findings in psychological preparedness for disaster, however gender difference in psychological prepareedness in the context of university students is still remain in question. Therefore, aim of this research is to investigate gender dfference in psychological preparedness of university students. The study was conducted in Surabaya. Survey research was applied using a Psychological Preparedness for Potential Disaster scale as a mean to identify the psychological preparedness of the participants.
With weather-related natural hazards increasing in number and severity, it is more important than ever for communities to prepare for all types of hazards. However, the literature does not reveal what such preparedness looks like – how much preparation is enough and, conversely, how low levels of preparation can be easily recognised by emergency agencies. This study maps Australian emergency agency understanding of competencies that are needed by individuals and communities for effective preparation. Using in-depth semi-structured interviews of 30 emergency agency, local council and not-for-profit organisation staff from all Australian states, participants identified a range of community and individual features that they had seen in un-prepared and well-prepared communities and which they believed were key competencies for protective action. These competencies were then mapped against participants’ perceptions of five different levels of preparation, resulting in a Preparedness Competency Index that allows agencies to benchmark preparation in communities, as well as to recognise when lack of preparation competency leaves groups vulnerable.
Technical Report
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Psychological preparedness – the ability to manage the body’s stress response during a disaster experience – can help people make better decisions in rapidly changing conditions. Without it, even the best physical plans and preparations can go awry. Despite its importance, there is little consensus on the best terms, formats and content for enhancing this type of preparedness. We spoke with residents of the Bundaberg region and emergency and disaster service personnel to understand what works, when and why for increasing psychological preparedness. We asked residents to provide feedback on 3 currently available brochures/websites on psychological preparedness from the Red Cross, the Queensland Government and the Australian Psychological Society. In brief, what did residents and agency personnel say about engaging people and increasing their self-efficacy in psychological preparedness?
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This study aim to determine level of psychological preparedness for disaster in terms of self efficacy and religious coping. Subjects in this study were 400 people of Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta province obtained using convenience sampling techniques. This data were collected by psychological preparedness for disaster scale with an alpha coefficient of 0,929, self efficacy scale with an alpha coefficient of 0,852, and religious coping scale with an alpha coefficient of 0,917. The result showing that : 1) there was a significant relationship between self efficacy and religious coping with psychological preparedness for disaster with a significance of 0,000 (p<0,05), with an effective contribution of 43,3% on psychological preparedness for disaster, 2) there was a positive relationship between self efficacy with psychological preparedness for disaster, with an effective contribution of 38,8% on psychological preparedness for disaster, and 3) there was a positive relationship between religious coping with psychological preparedness for disaster, with an effective contribution of 4,5% on psychological preparedness for disaster. Then, based on this research, there was a relationship between self efficacy and religious coping with psychological preparedness for disaster.
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T he information explosion and proliferation of powerful computers and software over the last decade or so has allowed more complex exploration of community vulnerability and its measurement. This has come about in two ways as a consequence of the technological revolution. Firstly, the measurement of the impact and occurrence of natural hazards has developed to a high level of prediction. Hazard-proof built structures and infrastructure have responded alongside this development in information and research. As the prediction of hazard impact and the establishment of safer building codes and warning systems have been improved, it has been the vulnerability of the human beings in the community that has emerged as the least known element. Thus, the second consequence of the information explosion has been emphasis on readily available information about the population. There are numerous social, economic and demographic characteristics available to measure the vulnerability of the community, but the problem in using them is how to isolate appropriate characteristics or variables as indicators of community vulnerability. The fact is that we are using this information regardless, because it is so easily available, and we are basing mitigation and emergency management decisions on the databases that we have constructed. The purpose of this paper is to reflect on some of the rules and limitations of using social vulnerability indicators.
One of the greatest challenges facing those concerned with health and environmental risks is how to carry on a useful public dialogue on these subjects. In a democracy, it is the public that ultimately makes the key decisions on how these risks will be controlled. The stakes are too high for us not to do our very best. The importance of this subject is what led the Task Force on Environmental Cancer and Heart and Lung Disease to establish an Interagency Group on Public Education and Communication. This volume captures the essence of the "Workshop on the Role of Government in Health Risk Communication and Public Education" held in January 1987. It also includes some valuable appendixes with practical guides to risk communication. As such, it is an important building block in the effort to improve our collective ability to carry on this critical public dialogue. Lee M. Thomas Administrator, U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Chairman, The Task Force on Environmental Cancer and Heart and Lung Disease Preface The Task Force on Environmental Cancer and Heart and Lung Disease is an interagency group established by the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1977 (P.L. 95-95). Congress mandated the Task Force to recommend research to determine the relationship between environmental pollutants and human disease and to recommend research aimed at reduc­ ing the incidence of environment-related disease. The Task Force's Project Group on Public Education and Communication focuses on education as a means of reducing or preventing disease.
Cross-Cultural Risk Perception demonstrates the richness and wealth of theoretical insights and practical information that risk perception studies can offer to policy makers, risk experts, and interested parties. The book begins with an extended introduction summarizing the state of the art in risk perception research and core issues of cross-cultural comparisons. The main body of the book consists of four cross-cultural studies on public attitudes towards risk in different countries, including the United States, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, Sweden, Bulgaria, Romania, Japan, and China. The last chapter critically discusses the main findings from these studies and proposes a framework for understanding and investigating cross-cultural risk perception. Finally, implications for communication, regulation and management are outlined. The two editors, sociologist Ortwin Renn (Center of Technology Assessment, Germany) and psychologist Bernd Rohrmann (University of Melbourne, Australia), have been engaged in risk research for the last three decades. They both have written extensively on this subject and provided new empirical and theoretical insights into the growing body of international risk perception research.
As a result of their poverty, developing countries are especially vulnerable to natural hazards because they are unable to invest sufficiently in structural and non-structural measures to mitigate the impact of the natural hazards they face. This is why, at the commendable initiative and with the generous support of the Government of Japan, the Working Party on Development Assistance and Environment of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) (*) decided in 1991 to develop Guidelines for Aid Agencies on Disaster Mitigation. These Guidelines, it was agreed, would help to increase the awareness among those involved in designing and implementing development co-operation programmes of the threat posed by natural hazards and of the range of measures that may be adopted so as to reduce their impacts on developing countries.
By now, it should be apparent that something is happening to behavior therapy. Its “learning theory” basis is being challenged and is being replaced, in part by a cognitive orientation. The conceptual basis of “learning theory” that provided the framework and heuristic background for a variety of behavior therapy procedures is being oppugned on both theoretical grounds (e.g., Bandura, 1974; Breger & McGaugh, 1965; McKeachie, 1974) and empirical grounds (e.g., Brewer, 1974; Mahoney, 1974; Meichenbaum, 1974a). Such time-honored concepts as the automaticity of reinforcement and the continuity assumption between overt and covert events are being seriously questioned. As Bandura stated in his presidential address to the American Psychological Association: So-called conditioned reactions are largely self-activated on the basis of learned expectations rather than automatically evoked. The critical factor, therefore, is not that events occur together in time, but that people learn to predict them and to summon up appropriate reactions. (1974, p. 860)