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The Process of Rebuilding Human Resilience in the Face of the Experience of a Natural Disaster: A Multisystem Model



This paper explores the process of resilience in multiple system levels through the perspectives of people who experienced a natural disaster in Australia. By focussing on human resilience, the paper adds to the literature by taking a salutogenic approach to addressing the effects on mental health arising from living through a natural disaster. The authors analysed 19 semi-structured interviews with people who experienced the 2010/11 floods in Victoria, Australia, and 20 witness statements from people who experienced the 2009 Victorian bushfires. We used an interpretive and comparative content analysis, through the lens of Bronfenbrenner’s theory, to develop an ecological model of the processes within and between systems that contributed to community resilience. Findings suggest that resilience is supported by goals to rebuild a sense of home, a network of friends and a sense of community. We conclude that enhancing community resilience required consideration of the roles and actions of others (media, government, relief agencies) as well as an individual’s resources from existing and new networks. The multiple-system model of resilience describes the complex integration of individual and community resilience to guide people involved at the multiple levels of disaster management with strategies that support communities that experience adversity.
International Journal of Emergency Mental Health and Human Resilience, Vol. 17, No.4, pp. 682-687, ISSN 1522-4821
IJEMHHR • Vol. 17, No. 4 • 2015 678
Disasters affect communities across the globe. In 2010 alone,
there were 385 natural disasters worldwide, which killed more
than 297,000 people, affected over 217 million others, and caused
a damage bill of US$123.9 billion (Guha-Sapir, Vos, Below &
Ponserre, 2011). Disasters devastate communities through immediate
mortality and morbidity as a result of injuries, exacerbation of
existing health problems, loss of clean water, shelter, sanitation
and a disrupted health system (Keim, 2008) and also contribute to
long term adverse mental health outcomes for community members
(Bonanno, Brewin, Kaniasty & La Greca, 2010). Australian studies
have consistently reported elevated adverse mental health as a result
of disasters (McFarlane, Clayer & Bookless, 1997; Parslow, Jorm
& Christensen, 2006; Bryant et al. 2014). After the most recent
Australian Black Saturday bushres in 2009, persistent re related
post-traumatic stress disorder (15.6%), depression (12.9%) and
psychological distress (9.8%) was more prevalent in communities
that were highly affected.
Despite the adverse consequences associated with disaster, there
is also a body of evidence that has identied unexpectedly positive
outcomes. Prevalence of the absence of pathology (identied as
resilience) at six months post disaster was found to be as high as
65.1 per cent in a total sample of 2,752 participants exposed to the
*Correspondence regarding this article should be directed to:
ABSTRACT: This paper explores the process of resilience in multiple system levels through the
perspectives of people who experienced a natural disaster in Australia. By focussing on human
resilience, the paper adds to the literature by taking a salutogenic approach to addressing the
effects on mental health arising from living through a natural disaster. The authors analysed 19
semi-structured interviews with people who experienced the 2010/11 oods in Victoria, Australia,
and 20 witness statements from people who experienced the 2009 Victorian bushres. We used an
interpretive and comparative content analysis, through the lens of Bronfenbrenner’s theory, to develop
an ecological model of the processes within and between systems that contributed to community
resilience. Findings suggest that resilience is supported by goals to rebuild a sense of home, a
network of friends and a sense of community. We conclude that enhancing community resilience
required consideration of the roles and actions of others (media, government, relief agencies) as
well as an individual’s resources from existing and new networks. The multiple-system model of
resilience describes the complex integration of individual and community resilience to guide people
involved at the multiple levels of disaster management with strategies that support communities that
experience adversity.
Key words: Resilience, adversity, natural disaster, social networks, Australia
The Process of Rebuilding Human Resilience in the Face of the
Experience of a Natural Disaster: A Multisystem Model
Gisela van Kessel1*, Colin MacDougall2,3, Lisa Gibbs4
1Doctor of Public Health, International Centre for Allied Health Evidence, University of South Australia
Adelaide, South Australia.
2Doctor of Philosophy, Professor of Public Health & Southgate Institute for Health, Society and Equity
School of Health Sciences, Flinders University, Bedford Park, South Australia
3Principal Fellow (Honorary), Jack Brockhoff Child Health & Wellbeing Program
University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
4Doctor of Philosophy, Associate Professor and Acting Director, Jack Brockhoff Child Health & Wellbeing Program, Centre for
Health Equity, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
What is Known about this Topic
Resilience refers to capacity to adjust to adversity
Ecological understandings of resilience highlight the interplay between individual developmental/adaptive
process and social and environmental inuences
There is limited understanding of the interconnection between multi-level inuences on resilience
What this Paper Adds
At an individual level, resilience was characterised by getting on with rebuilding. The term rebuilding was
a broad concept that went beyond physical structures to include notions of home, social networks and
The roles and actions of others (friends, community members, media, government, and relief agencies) can
have a profound impact on an individual’s experience of resilience.
The mechanisms for external factors/others to inuence individual resilience included a caring attitude, effective
communication, and a timely response.
679 van Kessel, MacDougall & Gibbs • The Process of Rebuilding Human Resilience
World Trade Centre terrorist attack (Bonanno, Galea, Bucciarelli &
Vlahov, 2007), and 77.3% in particpants exposed to the Australian
Black Saturday res (Bryant et al., 2014).
Resilience at its simplest is understood as bouncing back from
adversity, but as the body of research in this area expands, it is
increasingly observed to be a dynamic and complex phenomenon
(Luthar, Cicchetti & Becker, 2000). Resilience is a nascent and
sometimes nebulous term, because it references work based on
different theoretical perspectives, and a growing body of research
into different populations in different disciplines. An individual’s
resilience is variously understood as an outcome related to personality
traits (Block & Block, 1980), or a consequence of developmental
processes (Rutter, 1993), or a process of adaptation, or development
of internal personal resources (Masten et al., 1999). Community
resilience is conceptualised either as an aggregation of individual
resilience factors or the collective behaviour of individuals (Patterson
Weil & Patel, 2010). However, it has been observed that a group of
resilient individuals does not always lead to a resilient community
(Norris et al., 2008). The concept of community resilience is
potentially useful in disaster research because it describes the
characteristics of the community context, including built, natural,
social, and economic environments that inuence one another in
complex ways to support the resilience of its members (Norris et al.,
2008; Brodsky et al., 2011).
The majority of research into resilience has considered
individual and community resilience as distinct processes, focussing
on either identifying individual or community factors. For example,
community resilience relies on reconnecting with a sense of place
(Cairns-Nagi & Bambra, 2013; Cox & Perry, 2011) or community
connectedness and collective self-esteem (Zimmerman et al., 2015).
Understanding the concept of resilience as a dynamic interaction
between intrapersonal factors, psychological or mental health
outcomes and environmental protective factors (Luthar, Cicchetti &
Becker, 2000) suggests that resilience may be better understood as
an ecologically dynamic process (Ungar, 2011; Brodsky et al., 2011;
Zimmerman et al., 2015).
This paper advances our understanding of resilience by moving
towards an ecological approach using Bronfenbrenner’s ecological
theory (Ungar, 2011). This approach conceptualises resilience as
occurring in a set of multiple level systems. The knowledge about
individual resilience factors (situated within rst level of systems
known as the individual’s microsystem) has been nested in a number
systems that organise external factors according to their proximity
to the individual (Figure 1). Factors associated with the individual’s
immediate social circle or network has been allocated to the
mesosystem. Events occurring in the local community that had an
impact on the individual, but where the individual was not an active
participant, have been described as occurring in the exosystem. More
distal factors have been observed to occur in the broader community
(macrosystem) where overarching inuences such as culture, social
structures, belief systems and resources may impact on individual
resilience. Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory adds the dimension
of time as another system of inuence (Bronfenbrenner, 2005),
which is useful in studying the aftermath of disasters.
This paper adds to the literature which contains very little
investigation into the processes that are important for resilience
that occur within and between multiple-system levels (Masten &
Obradovic, 2008). Disaster management relies on understanding the
complexity of the interplay of factors in order to develop resilience-
orientated interventions (O’Sullivan, Kuziemsky, Toal-Sullivan &
Croneil, 2013), requiring more research to understand the interplay
of factors within and between multiple system levels. The purpose of
this study was to use the experience of people exposed to two natural
disasters to develop a deeper understanding of resilience to be used
by people involved at the multiple levels of disaster management
including, but not limited to, policy makers, disaster recovery
coordinators, business, not-for- prot, political and community
leaders in developing and implementing strategies. Having
reviewed the literature to locate the study theoretically, the paper
now describes the methodology and data collection methods before
presenting the results organised by the ecological model. The paper
concludes by discussing both theoretical and practical implications
for policy makers, disaster recovery coordinators, business, not-for-
prot, political and community leaders of using an ecological model
to analyse disasters.
This study employed a qualitative methodology that placed
the emphasis on discovery from the perspective of people who had
experienced natural disasters. The methodology was appropriate
because of the underpinning theory that knowledge was created and
transmitted by people as social actors in a social context, and that the
meaning for each individual arose from their experiences and social
interactions with others (Blumer, 1969; Crotty, 1998). Consequently,
data were collected from transcripts that were already available, as
well as interviews conducted for this research (van Kessel, Gibbs
and MacDougall in press). The processes of bearing witness, being
interviewed and transcription were understood as processes of social
interaction, where knowledge was constructed in the interaction
between a participant and the researcher (Kvale & Brinkman, 2009).
Setting and Time
The study was conducted in the state of Victoria, Australia.
Victoria has a population of 5, 737,600 people (ABS, 2013) and a
recorded history of disasters since colonisation. The 2009 bushres
and 2010/11 oods provided an opportunity use the ecological model
to compare and contrast the response to different types of disasters.
Following a decade of drought, January 2009 was a very dry
month in Victoria, and the nal week was marked by a severe heat
wave, with maximum temperatures reaching their highest levels
since 1939. On the 7th of February 2009 the high temperature (47
degrees Celsius) was exacerbated by a low relative humidity and
winds of 90 km/hour. These conditions led to 316 grass, scrub or
forest res. The nancial impact of the bushres was estimated to
be more than $4 billion and the human toll included the death of
173 people, and the innumerable people devastated by loss (Teague,
Mcleod, & Pascoe, 2010a).
Source: Diagram designed by rst author demonstrating analysis
based on Bronfenbrenner’s theory (2005).
Figure 1. Ecological disaster resilience process: getting going with
IJEMHHR • Vol. 17, No. 4 • 2015 680
Eighteen months later, parts of Victoria experienced up to three
serious ooding events between the 3rd of September 2010 and the
15th of January 2011. Two hundred Victorians evacuated after the
initial oods in 2010 while the nal episode in 2011 affected over
100 towns (Comrie, 2011). The nancial impact of the oods was
estimated to be $1.3 billion (Comrie, 2011).
These events provided two contrasting samples for this study.
The rst data set selected 20 witnesses from the 100 lay people
who presented to the 2009 Victorian Bushres Royal Commission.
This Royal Commission was established to investigate the deaths
associated with the res and provide recommendations on re
preparation, response and recovery. The nal report (http://www.
records the statements from the witnesses up to 12 months after
experiencing the 2009 bushres (Teague, Mcleod, & Pascoe,
2010b). These statements were recorded as transcripts available for
public access on line (
php?pid=137) enabling an analysis without further increasing the
burden on participants that might result from retelling their stories.
It was considered important to honour the bushre witnesses’
courage and intent. For this reason, every transcript was read (n =
100) to establish an appreciation of the breadth of issues of which
the witnesses felt the Royal Commission needed to be aware. This
provided an understanding of the context of the Royal Commission
and the bushre event itself. This initial process identied 50
transcripts that addressed the research question. A second reading
coded each transcript to identify 20 information rich transcripts. As
patterns emerged during this initial coding, transcripts were selected
to ensure a diversity of location, age and gender using information
from within the transcripts (van Kessel, Gibbs & MacDougall, 2014).
The second data set came from interviews conducted by the rst
author with 19 people who experienced the 2010/11 Victorian oods.
There were no publicly available witness statements available and so
a stratied purposive sampling method was used to identify potential
interviewees. Sampling consisted of rstly identifying communities
exposed to the 2010/11 Victorian oods (Flood Victoria n.d.),
using media reports and a list of selection criteria developed from
a review of the literature of factors associated with community
resilience, that included previous experience with ooding, exposure
(Bonanno, Brewin, Kaniasty & La Greca, 2010) and economic and
social resources (Sherrieb, Norris & Galea, 2010). As a result, four
communities were selected.
Data Collection
Flood Recovery Ofcers for each selected ooded community
were identied as key informants and interviewed to provide a
guide to the cultural mores of each community (Fontana & Fey,
1994). Interview participants were recruited within the selected
communities, initially through advertisements and subsequently
through snowballing to gather diversity in the sample guided by
factors established by the literature as predicting resilience of
individuals. The consent form for the ood affected participants
collected information on age, sex, education, ethnicity and
employment status. The semi-structured interview captured
information on personal exposure including injury, loss of life of
those close to the participant, loss of property, change in personal
nances, impact on the broader community, the proximity of the
ooding to the participant’s property and participants’ subjective
appraisal of risk (Bonanno, Brewin, Kaniasty & La Greca, 2010;
Harville et al., 2010; Lee, Shen & Tran, 2009). In addition, the
interview data included details on the participant’s media exposure,
previous experience of ooding and social support which have also
been found to be related to resilience (Bonanno, Brewin, Kaniasty &
La Greca, 2010; Fernando & Hebert, 2011).
The interviews were conducted face to face by the rst author
over a similar time span post disaster as the 2009 Victorian Bushres
Royal Commission hearings. This was consistent with the theoretical
understanding of resilience as a trajectory of recovery within the rst
twelve months of a disaster (Bonanno, 2004). The semi-structured
interviews began with exploring the ood affected participant’s life
history and allowed the person’s experience to be placed into context.
The interviews provided an opportunity for participants to describe
their disaster experience, reect on the meaning the experience
had for them (Seidman, 1998). Serendipitously, this format closely
matched the 2009 Victorian Bushre Royal Commission witness
The rst author transcribed each interview. The interview and
witness transcripts were coded and had a memo le set up before
the next interview was conducted. This allowed analysis and new
questions to be explored throughout the study. New issues and
perspectives were allocated new codes that were recorded throughout
this process. Saturation was deemed to have been reached when no
new codes emerged in the later interviews.
Ethics approval was gained from the Flinders University and
Southern Area Health Service Social and Behavioural Research
Ethics Committee on the 9th of May 2011. Permission from the
Honourable Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Parliament of
Victoria for the nal quotations to be used in this publication was
also sought and granted. Numbers, rather than pseudonyms, have
been used to maintain condentiality and anonymity of the ood
affected participants. Numbers have also been used for the bushre
interviews to avoid possible disrespect associated with the allocation
of false names to people who had chosen to go on the public record
and bear witness to the bushre event.
Data Analysis
The interviews were recorded using a Sony stereo IC recorder
and the digital mp3 les were downloaded into NVivo 9 (along
with the downloaded witness transcripts). Each interview and
witness statement transcript was analysed as a whole unit with a
set of analytical questions. This captured the overall experience of
the individual (Saldaña, 2009) and helped to keep to the fore the
perspective of the ood affected participants throughout the analysis.
The coding of the transcripts broke the data into discrete parts by
highlighting the exact words from the text that appeared to capture
key thoughts or concepts (Hsieh & Shannon, 2005). A label was
developed for each code that reected key themes as they emerged.
This phase of coding included some simultaneous coding where
more than one code seemed relevant to the same data set (Saldaña,
2009). Notes were made of these occurrences to help identify initial
relationships between codes, and reections on the sensitivity of
each code.
Once categories began to emerge, a series of concept maps
helped to organise the data and investigate the relationships
between categories. This iterative mapping eventually organised
the categories into a structure (Hsieh & Shannon, 2005) which was
then aligned with Bronfenbrenner’s bio-ecological theory (2005) as
a theoretical lens to provide further structure for the analysis. Final
categories and relationships were dened and each transcript was re-
read to verify the nal structure with the original data.
Rigour was supported by ensuring each ood affected participant
had the opportunity to read and verify their transcript, and through
the use of memos on the coding of each transcript and emerging
categories. A reective journal was kept to record issues related to
the research as an entire unit and considered difculties, emerging
insights and theoretical notes on the development of categories
across the data. The iterative process of repeatedly reading transcripts
from two different sources throughout the eld trips was conducted
681 van Kessel, MacDougall & Gibbs • The Process of Rebuilding Human Resilience
over eight months to promote credibility of the ndings. Researcher
triangulation with the second and third authors was used to verify
coding. Negative cases were actively sought and contradictory data
was discussed amongst the researchers until consensus was reached.
For example, data from the interview participants who doubted their
resilience was reviewed and it was observed that their data reected
the complementarity of categories identied by those who did feel
The Study Limitations
The sample of the bushre witness transcripts is biased towards
older people and to some extent this is apparent in the ood sample
recruitment also. This is not surprising given previous research has
established that older people may be more resilient and so may be
more likely to agree to participate in research or present at a Royal
Commission (Bonanno, Galea, Bucciarelli & Vlahov, 2007) It may
be that younger people chose other forums to share their experiences
with the wider community. Consequently, it cannot be claimed that
this research reects their experiences.
Caution needs to be taken with generalising the results of this
study to the wider community that has experienced these events,
as this assumes that those who agreed to participate in either the
Royal Commission or the research interviews were no different
from those who chose not to engage. It is possible that ood affected
participants and bushre witnesses have a certain amount of self-
efcacy and condence in their ability to articulate and communicate
their experiences not evident in the broader population.
No participant in either sample identied themselves as being an
Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and the representation of people
born overseas is below the state percentage. This suggests that the
role of culture could not be adequately observed in this sample. The
ndings may need to be further modied for Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islanders due to the unique set of adversities they face and their
attachment to land.
Finally the data collection was limited to a single point in time
and so does not account for the possible change in perceptions of
the ood affected participants and bushre witnesses throughout the
disaster experience.
Resilience as Rebuilding
The analysis used the ecological model to reveal that there was
a consistent meaning ascribed by ood affected participants and
bushre witnesses to their resilience that was created by their personal
experiences. The overarching theme of resilience, whether faced with
a ood or re, was characterised by getting going with rebuilding.
The experience of getting going with rebuilding appeared within
each system described in Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model (2005).
Resilience framed as getting going with rebuilding was understood
at the microsystem level as taking steps as soon as possible to rebuild
lives and establish a sense of normalcy with a view to the future.
Participants reported their key decisions about when to return home
after evacuation, whether to return to their community, and when/
where/how reconstruction of their dwelling should occur. As such,
rebuilding was strongly focused on reconstruction of housing, but
importantly, in the context of re-establishing a home, rather than
just shelter. This meaning of resilience as rebuilding incorporated
building the individual’s social network (mesosystem) and restoring
communities (exosystem) and again extended beyond structural
repair to include rebuilding lives and a sense of community, with
recognition of macrosystem inuences of funding and insurance.
[name] and I have also been involved in the [community
development group], which has worked with companies like
[corporation] on establishing semi-permanent accommodation
in [town] so that residents can return there and rebuild the local
community. (bushre witness #34 - female)
…we are a vibrant close-knit community, there is pride in the
community and we want to build that up again. (ood affected
participant #5 - female)
Intersystem Processes
Resilience as a rebuilding occurring within a number of nested
systems also appeared to rely on some key processes that connected
the ecological systems depicted in Figure 1. Processes that
enabled effective communication and conveyed a caring response
underpinned the rebuilding processes described in this paper.
Effective communication of relevant information was identied
as a dominant process both within systems but also between systems.
Communication of information from macro/exo/mesosystems
in the ecological model was critical for making decisions about
reconstruction. It was a key process that contributed to receiving
emotional support in the microsystem and maintaining community
connections or expanding networks within the mesosystem as well
as connecting with exosystem based organisations. Communication
from the macrosystem was also recognised to be important in
achieving the goals of rebuilding individual lives as well as
I believe the critical issue was accessible, honest information.
In this regard, I think the community meetings worked well. Due
to the limitations or absence of other means of communication, we
were restricted to what we could do on a face-to-face basis. That
meant nding somewhere for meetings that was sheltered and where
a large number of people could congregate, and then sharing what
we needed to know. People have said that the meetings were also a
chance to come together and to touch base with each other – certainly
the conversations and catching up continued long after the formal
business of the meetings concluded. (bushre witness #20 - female)
Emotional support that conveyed a sense of being cared
about by others also emerged within and across the systems. The
bushre witnesses and ood affected participants were recipients
of donations, practical support as well as emotional support from
meso/exo/macrosystems, all conveying sympathy and helping
to manage emotions within the microsystem. However some of
the ood affected participants and bushre witnesses were also
providers of community support to others extending into their
mesosystem. Helping occurred during the emergency phase, with
many taking time out of ghting the bushres or oods on their
own land, to assist others with defending property. Assistance was
most commonly provided during recovery through home visiting,
coordinating fodder distribution, contributing to recovery committee
work, helping to remember those who died, advocating for the needs
of others, helping others reconstruct their dwelling, helping others
with their health and providing communal meals. Assisting others
appeared to form part of the reconstruction activities that supported
their recovery.
Those sorts of things kept me very busy and that was my way
of coping with everything that had happened. I wanted to use some
of my skills to benet the community rather than just my immediate
family. (bushre witness #24 - male).
Individual Processes (Microsystem)
Resilience as rebuilding began with processes that occurred
within the individual (microsystem) in the ecological model. The
ood affected participants and witnesses described how strategies
for managing their emotions and thoughts were linked to their ability
to take action. They were able to seek and use information to make
effective decisions and plans for the future. They were also able to
access resources and coordinate activities from the complex array
IJEMHHR • Vol. 17, No. 4 • 2015 682
of interventions available. The person’s ability to manage their
emotions, make decisions, take action, access resources and plan for
their future contributed to their resilience.
Emotions and Cognitions
In both samples, it was evident that the disaster experience led to
a range of emotions, which included experiencing fear, grief, anger,
distress, loss, exhaustion, a sense of isolation, sense of violation,
and negative cognitions. Bushre witnesses also described their
shock and guilt reactions. Many of the bushre witnesses described
a growing sense of concern during the event in response to their
own observations; particularly of smoke. The focus of their fear was
for the safety of themselves, their family, friends and neighbours.
Fear was reduced for some, by trusting the knowledge of others, or
because they had clear expectations of what the event would be like.
Managing emotions, and using positive cognitions, were two of the
most common personal responses evident across both samples.
Things like that happen, we have to get on with our lives, rebuild
and get on with our lives and get rid of our anger and emotions.
(ood affected participant #1 - male).
Decisions Actions and Access to Resources
Flood affected participants and bushre witnesses described
how they made decisions based on their assessment of risks, how
they responded to those risks, and what they did to access assistance
during the emergency phase. Decision-making and actions during
the event were sometimes based on advice from others, but more
commonly were founded on personal beliefs, values, past experience
and observations of the environment. Beliefs and personal values
informed decisions such as what to prioritise in terms of protecting
e.g. animals, and when to stop defending and evacuate. Flood affected
participants made decisions based on the history of the area, personal
experience with the earlier ooding and forecasts, but they felt this
left them unaware of the possible extent of the ood. The bushre
witnesses were aware of bushre risk but again, most never expected
the severity and impact of the event, and this gave most of them a
false sense of personal and property safety. By contrast, the ood
affected participants and bushre witnesses, who expressed doubt
that they had recovered, or were resilient, were still experiencing
difcult emotions and unable to make decisions, or take actions, or
were critical of the decisions and actions they had taken themselves.
I am static at the moment…it has really settled on me now, I am
really angry, I wasn’t before, I was just sort of trying to recover…
(ood affected participant #17 - female).
Future plans
Decision making and subsequent actions also occurred during
the preparation and recovery phases that constitute the timelines
that inform post disaster responses. Planning included decisions on
whether to take out insurance, stay and protect the property or to
evacuate and when. Bushre witnesses made decisions on how to
increase the ability of the property to withstand a re e.g. through
the installation of water storage. In the recovery phase, decisions
and actions centred on planning and accessing resources that would
contribute to clean-up and reconstruction activities.
In hindsight, one of the best things [wife] and I did on the drive
from [town] to [town] was talk about what we'd do and made the
decision that we would rebuild. (bushre witness #35 - male).
Immediate Social Networks (Mesosystem)
An ecological model of resilience drew attention to the
rebuilding processes that occurred within a person’s social network
(mesosystem). The participants and witnesses relied on people within
their network to provide information they trusted, material and
instrumental support for reconstruction and importantly, emotional
support. In addition, the formation of new community groups and
connections created opportunities to meet new people, so social
networks were expanded. People met volunteers and staff from
outside of the area as well as local and state leaders at the recovery
centre and community events and this was considered important for
rebuilding lives. These processes helped to maintain or create social
networks and supported the resilience of ood affected participants
and bushre witnesses.
Both ood affected participants and bushre witnesses
recognised that the strengthening of existing networks contributed to
rebuilding both individual lives and the community.
…everybody has built a bridge. That has been great. We have
all helped each other and talked and that has been fabulous. (ood
affected participant #6 - female).
Talking was seen as very important in strengthening existing
networks, as it enabled existing social support networks to be
recognised and used in the rebuilding process.
I learnt that the essential element of sustainable recovery is to
nd and engage with the strengths and networks that existed in a
community before the disaster. Every community has something that
works for them and that they value. It is worth taking the time to
identify and connect with those networks and to build on the pre-
existing strengths wherever possible. (bushre witness #20 - female)
New networks were developed within a community through
social events that encouraged sharing and facilitated emotional
support, and occurred through formal events arranged to celebrate
the progress of recovery.
The party was a huge success. It was held in and around the
grounds of the Council ofce and in the big white tent. [corporation]
volunteers and other wonderful people arranged activities, entertainment
and party food for the kids. (bushre witness #20 - female).
The work of volunteers extended support networks. This was
seen before the oods through assistance with building temporary
levees and sandbagging, and during both events in the relief centres
where volunteers provided practical and emotional support. After
the disasters volunteers contributed to cleaning up, reconstructing
fencing and outbuildings such as stables and sheds, and restoring the
environment through planting trees and gardening assistance.
I had the Lions club here. A man came down here on the rst
day to rip out the carpets and he said to me “tomorrow there will
be 25 people here from [town], from the Lions club (ood affected
participant #1 - male).
New resident groups were reported more frequently in the
bushre data, with a number of bushre witnesses describing their
roles as founding members of the recovery committee, or setting up
information sharing groups and a support network for “weekenders”.
One witness organised speakers and holidays for community
members, while another described the breakfasts she ran as new
community events.
Local Community Processes (Exosystem)
An individual’s resilience was characterised by an ecological
approach as inuenced by distal events that did not require their
active participation (exosystem). In addition to expanding personal
networks and receiving direct support from new acquaintances, ood
affected participants and bushre witnesses also discussed activities
occurring in the broader community that inuenced their rebuilding
efforts. These external activities demonstrated how the actions of
others could have a personal impact. Effective communication from
media, government and council bodies and appropriate allocation
of assistance by agencies contributed to peoples’ experience of
683 van Kessel, MacDougall & Gibbs • The Process of Rebuilding Human Resilience
Effective communication
Flood affected participants and bushre witnesses had
expectations that were not met regarding being able to access up-to-
date information during the event from the exosystem via the media.
Instead, most reported that their knowledge came from the micro/
mesosystem through personal observation or from other community
Local government organisations were expected to provide
leadership through effective communication and action. Bushre
witnesses expected leadership in relation to managing environmental
risks while ood affected participants expected local government
(Shire) staff would step in with a rapid response to recovery. Where
these expectations were not met there was an interpretation of lack
of care.
There wasn’t a lot of Shire presence and that took a few days
before Shire presence started to be felt so there is still a bit of
resentment in the town because of a lack of empathy, a lack of care
and response (ood affected participant #7 - male).
Responsive Resource Allocation
In addition to the direct volunteer assistance from within
individuals’ support networks, indirect assistance was provided
from the exosystem in the form of donations of practical materials
that could be used to sustain immediate needs and contribute to
reconstruction, such as household items (e.g. mattresses, blankets,
oven, cook top and dishwasher, fridges), food shopping vouchers,
clothes, building materials (plaster, carpet, kitchen, white ant
inspections) and cars. There were also more personal donations,
which were intended to provide emotional support; including
holidays, gifts (such as chocolates, owers and wine), personal items
(fresh pillows and toilet paper), entertainment and garden plants. The
bushre donations also constituted signicant amounts of materials
that contributed to the reconstruction of farming livelihoods including
fodder, agistment and fencing material. The donations of material
goods were perceived as both empowering and disempowering, and
this depended on how they were allocated. Donations gave people a
sense of self-efcacy to purchase what they needed but also required
energy to sort and store and dispose of unnecessary goods.
Existing groups such as the Country Fire Association (CFA),
Rotary, Lions, the Australian Red Cross, the Salvation Army,
Apex, and the Country Women’s Association were able to provide
support that provided practical assistance. The local knowledge
of staff allowed them to be prompt in providing donations, unlike
the burdensome paperwork required for government grants. These
services and staff were effective because they were able to coordinate
volunteer help and donations as well as provide emotional support
When you haven't lost any family members or your pets but you
have lost your house, it is practical assistance that you need most.
I think the assistance provided by the CFA is why our community
is so far ahead compared to other communities that are rebuilding.
(bushre witness #23 - female)
The responsiveness of local government in planning, preparation
and response (e.g. making sandbags available, managing road side
fuel load and road access) was also attributed by ood affected
participants and bushre witnesses as external events that inuenced
their capacity to protect their home and consequently inuenced
their recovery and resilience.
Broader Community Processes (Macrosystem)
The ecological model of resilience highlighted some distal
processes within the culture, social structures, and resources that
enabled rebuilding (macrosystem). There were fewer descriptions
provided by the ood affected participants and bushre witnesses
of these more distal inuences. Some of the most important were
the federal and state government funding schemes, global climate,
cultural attitudes to land and water management, and the Royal
Funding support
Both ood affected participants and bushre witnesses were
dependent on broader policy decisions and systems. The provision
of nancial support was inuenced by leadership and decisions
made at the macrosystem level. Actions by insurance companies, the
Australian government and international sources, were associated
with the opportunity to realise the goal of rebuilding lives.
If we get good news [to a funding proposal], we will at least have
a chance to start rebuilding our lives. (bushre witness #24 - male)
Conversely, some of the ood affected participants described
how they were not eligible for government grants and how this
negatively affected them. Some ood affected participants also
found the Centrelink and tax consequences confusing.
One of the people down the road, [town] didn’t get ooded but
they gave her money and that was what I am saying they handed it
out willy-nilly and they gave her ood recovery money. She came up
here and said here you have my share because you deserve it more.
(ood affected participant #18 - male)
The Inuence of the Context Of Time (Chronosystem)
Finally Bronfenbrenner’s theory drew attention to the dimension
of time as an important system of inuence (chronosystem).The
importance of timing appeared across the data, to support the notion
that resilience was about getting going with rebuilding as soon as
You have got to bounce up and get going and we had our
moments, we certainly did but you do you keep plodding on and I
guess we are pretty positive people … (ood affected participant #12
- female)
Resilience as a process was observed to be reliant on the actions
of others as well as the individual concerned and consequently the
timing of actions by others had an impact on resilience. Actions that
were appropriately timed, coordinated and delivered in a exible,
collaborative manner conveyed a sense of caring, recognition of
plight and empowerment. Conversely, delays had an adverse effect
on reconstruction, whether individual or community. It was felt
by most ood affected participant and bushre witnesses that the
response should be swift and immediate, to avoid people giving up
on the reconstruction project. Delays in providing nancial support
had a particular inuence on delaying reconstruction.
We spent ve months just hanging around. Because of the
delay, some of the business people who were initially interested in
being involved in the project gave up on [town] and set themselves
up somewhere else. I have also observed that the morale of the
remaining business community has been dented by the delay and the
constant disappointments it has caused. (bushre witness #25 - male)
They could have deployed a lot more, a lot sooner and minimised,
I suppose pain and suffering, not necessarily in an emotional sense
but in a monetary sense that will help the community recover and
come out quicker. (ood affected participant #4 - male)
On the other hand, some interventions were ceased too early, and
did not allow people impacted by the disaster time to seek assistance
at their own pace. People affected by both events perceived that
recovery occurs at an individual pace, so interventions need to be
exible in their timing and not withdrawn too quickly.
We worked fairly closely with the DPI [Department of Primary
Industry] – they had imposed a four week time limit on the emergency
assistance but we kept it going for another couple of weeks because,
in many cases, it was days and weeks before people began to emerge
to seek assistance. (bushre witness #27 - female).
IJEMHHR • Vol. 17, No. 4 • 2015 684
Flood affected participants also discussed the timing of their own
recovery, and their expectations of what was normal. In addition
they identied that outsiders had expectations of an appropriate time
by which to recover.
I reckon around August/September there was a real dip … I
remember talking to the Flood Recovery Ofcer. I think, we were all
starting to think, we should be over it and that probably made us feel
worse. (ood affected participant #9 - female).
This study explored resilience within the context of natural
disasters following bushre and ood events in Victoria, Australia
through the multiple system levels of Bronfenbrenner’s ecological
theory (microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, macrosystem and
chronosystem) that was discussed in the previous section. This
section draws out the signicance of using an ecological model
to analyse data. The use of an ecological model demonstrates
how proximal individual factors contributing to resilience might
be connected by increasingly distal community factors in the rst
12 months post disaster, and identied the importance of a caring
response and effective communication across multiple system
levels. These connections are demonstrated in a conceptual model
of nested processes within and between system levels (Figure 1) to
guide people involved in policy development, disaster planning and
We identied a central unifying theme of the chronosphere
across the levels of the model, of Getting going with rebuilding. The
rst part of this theme, Getting going implies that the experience
of resilience from the overarching recovery process is based on a
dimension of time. Resilience appeared to be strongly inuenced
by the timely availability of support services and resources and the
capacity to operationalise those supports when the individual is ready
for action. This notion of resilience incorporating the dimension of
time supports previous work describing resilience as one of a number
of different recovery trajectories (Bonanno, 2004; Norris, Tracy &
Galea, 2009). This view of resilience emphasises the importance of
using timelines in pre-disaster planning that are based on a resilience
trajectory, to minimise the delay of the implementation of post
disaster strategies, and optimise effectiveness.
The second part of the central theme acknowledges the concept,
so important in disaster literature, of rebuilding, is a term often used
to refer to the reconstruction of physical infrastructure. Application
of Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model, however, reveals a much
broader meaning across the four levels (Bronfenbrenner, 2005).
The meaning attributed by the ood affected participants and the
bushre witnesses to rebuilding focussed on the restoration of their
lives towards a sense of normality. This required making plans and
working towards a positive future through the restoration of hope.
Hope, in the broader literature has been observed to inuence
resilience in the disaster context through the actions of others such as
home visiting or acts of leadership that assisted others to set positive
goals (Karairmak, 2010; Hobfoll et al., 2007). Our ndings suggest
that promoting individuals to take out adequate insurance and
develop evacuation plans are as important as consultation processes
led by people in the local and broader community to develop visions
for a new future.
Our conceptual model captured some of the resilience processes
that occurred within the individual (depicted as the microsystem
in Figure 1). At this level rebuilding requires a degree of agency
from the person who has experienced a disaster, in order to restore
a sense of safety (through rebuilding home as a symbolic extension
of self), rebuilding personal identity or re-establishing a sense of
place (Cox & Perry, 2011). The ood affected participants and the
bushre witnesses utilised their ability to manage emotions and
cognitions, and their capacity to solve problems, as fundamental
adaptive systems for human resilience (Masten & Obradovic, 2008).
Managing emotions and cognitions have been demonstrated to
enhance resilience through actions such as a willingness to change
thoughts and behaviour, being optimistic and not seeing themselves
as a victim or conned to one role (Beiser, Wiwa & Adebajo, 2010;
Fox, White, Rooney & Cahill, 2010; Karairmak, 2010; Greenhill,
King, Lane & MacDougall, 2009; Rajkumar, Premkumar & Tharyan,
However, our model demonstrates how resilience requires
more than an individual’s self-agency, it also relies on the actions
within a person’s immediate social network (within an individual’s
mesosystem) (Fernando & Hebert, 2011; Fox, White, Rooney &
Cahill, 2010; Lawson, 2010; Glandon, Muller & Almedom, 2008;
Rajkumar, Premkumar & Tharyan, 2008). The ood affected
participants and bushre witnesses explained the importance of
the care and emotional support provided by their existing networks
friends and family. Evidence that the actions by others providing
emotional support (Wyche et al., 2011; Beiser, Wiwa & Adebajo,
2010; Boscarino & Adams, 2009; Hobfoll et al., 2008; Bonanno,
Galea, Bucciarelli & Vlahov, 2007) conrms the importance of
relationships to resilience (Masten & Obradovic, 2008).
Some ood affected participants and bushre witnesses
described an increase in community involvement, social sharing and
a broadening of their social network. Elsewhere, public meetings
and other social gatherings have been observed to provide emotional
support by allowing communities to connect, grieve and celebrate
as required (Ng, Wilson & Veitch, 2015; Boon, 2014; Rajkumar,
Premkumar & Tharyan, 2008).
By contrast, there were some descriptions of community
gatherings marked by signicant community anger and conict.
Initial community cohesion and subsequent community disharmony
has been observed as a common post disaster pattern (Bonanno,
Brewin, Kaniasty & La Greca, 2010; Gordon, 2004). We encourage
business and community leaders to arrange events that celebrate
progress and enable members of communities to maintain and build
connections with each other. Disaster recovery coordinators can
also play an important role in identifying the different needs and
difculties of groups within the community and facilitating the
building of new relationships (Gordon, 2004).
Our ndings also highlight the impact on resilience from the
actions of others in settings outside of the individual’s immediate
network. Our interpretation of ecological model depicts the
importance of effective external agencies in the exosystem (Figure
1). The ability to access resources from outside the immediate social
network was perceived by the ood affected participants and bushre
witnesses to inuence their capacity to reconstruct their dwelling
(self-efcacy), this in turn has been shown to inuence the ability
to recover (Fernando & Hebert, 2011). The importance of material
help through donations for resilience has been identied in other
disaster contexts (Bonanno, Brewin, Kaniasty & La Greca, 2010),
Rajkumar, Premkumar & Tharyan, 2008). Our ndings indicate
that disaster recovery coordinators can play a vital role in linking
individuals to the assistance they perceive they need from outside
of their immediate network by establishing effective communication
We argue that resilience should not just be considered at the
individual or community level. Our model reects how some of the
distal actions and decisions made at a societal level can inuence
the resilience of the individual (see the macrosystem in Figure 1).
The ood affected participants and bushre witnesses emphasised
the inuence that state and federal government policies and
procedures had on their outcomes. As has been reported elsewhere,
communication was used by some ood affected participants and
bushre witnesses during the response phase to raise nancial,
685 van Kessel, MacDougall & Gibbs • The Process of Rebuilding Human Resilience
material and instrumental support from distal sources (e.g. relief
efforts, donations, volunteers) using the efciency of media as a
communication channel (Kodrich & Laituri, 2005).
While previous research has identied the inuence of a number
of macrosystem features such as race/ethnicity (Harville et al., 2010;
Boscarino & Adams, 2009; Lee, Shen & Tran, 2009; Glandon,
Muller & Almedom, 2008; Hobfoll et al., 2008; Palmieri et al., 2008;
Bonnano, Galea, Bucciarelli & Vlahov, 2007; Bonnano et al., 2006),
employment/population ratio, median household income, occupation
type, income equity, education level and net business gain/loss rate
(Sherrieb, Norris & Galea, 2010), and access to schools and services
(Hegney et al., 2008) none of these were evident in our data. Some
of the ood affected participants considered climate change as a
distal inuence when they reected on previous natural disasters.
The importance of the physical environment and the management
of water infrastructure and bushre hazards had an inuence on
resilience also noted in socioeconomically deprived communities in
the north east of England (Cairns-Nagi & Bambra, 2013, Pearson,
Pearce & Kingham, 2013). This suggests that policy makers who aspire
to enhance resilience need to incorporate broad socioeconomic goals.
Our analysis of the results adds to previous ecological concepts
of resilience by identifying that Bronfenbrenner’s nested systems
rely on intersystem processes to enable connections from more distal
systems to effectively impact the individual. Communication was
relevant within each level distal to the individual, but appeared to be
equally important between system levels. Similarly, the data from
the ood affected participants and bushre witnesses highlighted
how the actions that expressed care and concern from each level
were connected to the individual’s resilience. The model indicates
that the role of inuential leaders in the local community should not
be underestimated. The perceived inaction of these others can be
interpreted as a lack of caring and be detrimental to the resilience
of the population. We suggest that distal sources of support from the
federal level need to be clearly communicated to every level within
the model to ensure that recovery resources are both efciently and
effectively allocated. Furthermore, policies that maintain or build
social networks and communication are important and could include
training and support for staff and volunteers in the provision of a
caring response
This exploratory study has used an understanding of participants’
experiences following bushre and ood events in Victoria,
Australia to expand an ecological understanding of resilience. We
have detailed a number of processes within and between systems that
may inform policy and practice. Our model exposes the importance
not only of the actions of the individual, but the actions of others in
contributing to resilience post disaster. In particular, we argue that
consideration should be given to both proximal and distal inuences
on resilience. We suggest people involved at all phases of disaster
management develop strategies to promote communication within
and between each level. We highlight the important effect on
resilience that result from expressions of care and support enacted
by connecting the individual with resources beyond their immediate
settings. We urge attention be given to the timing of implementing
recovery activities as this may be crucial to resilience outcomes. Our
model adds to previous research by describing a multiple system
approach that promotes integration across levels of resilience and
looks more broadly to the role of strategies that address issues
such as climate change, natural disaster hazard management and
socioeconomic equality as well as interventions that encourage
members of communities to maintain and build connections.
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... Previous research has concluded that the roles and actions of media, government, and advocacy groups in providing the information is pivotal in community resilience at times of crisis [46]. In our study, healthcare providers expressed the burden of expectations around being able to understand and relay information to their patients and clients and emphasised the lessons that should be learned from these and previous crises [46] to make future media, government and advocacy messaging easier to understand. ...
... Previous research has concluded that the roles and actions of media, government, and advocacy groups in providing the information is pivotal in community resilience at times of crisis [46]. In our study, healthcare providers expressed the burden of expectations around being able to understand and relay information to their patients and clients and emphasised the lessons that should be learned from these and previous crises [46] to make future media, government and advocacy messaging easier to understand. Concerning the bushfires, too, our participants (in particular in the stakeholder group) identified a need for pastoral staff to mitigate the effects of crisis if communities were isolated; this finding mirrored findings from our research group that explored the needs of persons with MS living in rural and remote Australia [47]. ...
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Purpose: The Australian multiple sclerosis (MS) community experienced two recent major crises, widespread bushfires and the COVID 19 pandemic. We aimed to understand the needs of persons with MS during times of crisis. Materials and methods: A consumer-directed mixed-method study. We included an online survey, semi-structured interviews, and a workshop with persons with MS, carers, healthcare professionals, and disability advocates. Data were collected via: (1) 176 people completing online surveys to identify crisis concerns and communications, (2) 29 people completing online interviews on bushfire and pandemic impact, and (3) 13 people participating in a crises-priorities workshop. Descriptive data were calculated for survey response, and a general inductive analytical approach was taken with interview and workshop responses. Results: The most significant concerns were bushfire smoke exposure and disease-modifying-medication and susceptibility to COVID-19 (66% and 63% mean concern score, respectively). Interviews indicated crises experiences from the bushfires, and the pandemic overlapped respective of changes in mood and symptom stability. For bushfires, a need for future preparations, and for the pandemic, the benefits of social restrictions, disclosing personal health information and increased care burden were important. Conclusions: Multiple crises challenged the MS community but offered lessons for healthcare in future crises. Continued progress in centralised crisis information, with considered use of telehealth and rural healthcare support, is needed.Implications for rehabilitationThe MS community showed high concerns for the effect of toxic smoke from the 2019/2020 Australian bushfires and, separately, for the disease-modifying-medication and susceptibility to COVID-19.The MS community placed priority on a crisis management plan for individuals.Reduced social activity due to restrictions was beneficial for MS symptom self-awareness and may help overall fatigue management.Healthcare system preparation must prepare to alleviate increased carer workload at times of crisis.
... There has been extensive research relating to the impacts of crises on the mental health of communities and individuals. Examples include earthquakes in New Zealand (Fang, Prayag, Ozanne, & de Vries, 2020), the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria, Australia (Bryant et al., 2018;Bryant et al., 2014;Cowlishaw et al., 2021;Gibbs et al., 2013;Van Kessel, MacDougall, & Gibbs, 2015) and other crises such as volcanoes, SARS-1, 9/11 terrorist attacks, and hurricanes (Ghuman, Brackbill, Stellman, Farfel, & Cone, 2014;Gissurardóttir, Hlodversdóttir, Thordardóttir, Pétursdóttir, & Hauksdóttir, 2019;Lowe, Bonumwezi, Valdespino-Hayden, & Galea, 2019;Raker et al., 2019;Tzeng et al., 2020). These crises prompted mental health problems such as reduced wellbeing, to more serious mental illness such as PTSD, depression, anxiety, and problematic alcohol consumption lasting anywhere from two to 16 years or more (Berlemann, 2016;Danzer & Danzer, 2016;de Mel, McKenzie, & Woodruff, 2008;Luechinger & Raschky, 2009;Morgan et al., 2015;Oishi et al., 2015). ...
Crises have a negative, and often long-lasting impact on mental health. The stress of dealing with the ongoing and unpredictable aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an unprecedented rise in mental health problems including low mood, depression and anxiety. Tourism businesses have faced ongoing challenges, with repeated lockdowns and drastically reduced tourist numbers and mental health challenges faced by operators may impact the resilience of tourism organisations and vice versa. Few studies have examined this. Our study in Victoria, Australia documents the mental health impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on owners and managers (operators) of small to medium tourism businesses and explores organisational factors that may impact or protect operator mental health during the crisis. Our findings show that the mental health of the cohort reached critically low levels over the course of the pandemic. We also identify positive associations between tourism organisational resilience and operator mental health.
Anger is a well-recognised but little understood emotion in postdisaster contexts. For service providers working in recovery environments, it is critical to understand anger to ensure effective supports and interventions are mobilised. This article describes findings from a study conducted four years after the 2009 Victorian Black Saturday bushfires. Thirty-eight community and service-provider participants were interviewed as individuals, dyads, or within focus groups about their own and others’ experiences of anger. Postdisaster anger was described as more immediate, intense, and frequent than predisaster, and seen by participants as destructive, productive, and justified. Experiences and understandings differed by gender, and related to aggression, violence, and family violence. Service provision was a key trigger for anger, with leadership styles, community expectations, and community members’ level of control over decision making being factors that shaped experience. Based on these findings, five proposed principles for anger-sensitive practice in disaster contexts, along with wider considerations for understanding anger, are provided. • IMPLICATIONS • This article provides unique understandings of the experience of anger following disaster, which are useful for social workers, community members and leaders, and other service providers. • Research findings about anger experiences and outcomes postdisaster are synthesised into proposed principles for practice with disaster-impacted communities (that can potentially build capability prior to disasters).
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The impact of natural disasters affect the mental health of communities at a personal and collective level. For this reason, we investigated the relationship between the psychological well-being and sense of community of people in an area of high vulnerability to natural disasters in eastern Lima - Peru, where landslides and stones called "Huaicos" occur. 55 adult participated, of which 56.4% were women and 43.7% were men. The Psychological Well-Being Questionnaire and the Sense of Community Index (SCI2) adapted for populations in vulnerable conditions. It was found that people with higher education have greater psychological well-being than people with only school education. In case of a sense of community, age is directly proportional related (r = .30, p <.05). In general, we can affirm that there are different mediating variables for personal and community analysis between psychological well-being with a sense of community such as age and education. Therefore, the sociodemographic elements in this context are essential to understand community dynamics in disaster situations.
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The present research is a study on posttraumatic coping in some paragraphs of the second letter to the Corinthians of the Apostle Paul. As a research in the field of practical theology, in methodological terms, this thesis follows the steps of the hermeneutical arc proposed by Ricoeur (1976, 2002, 2016), from the perspective of the Psychological Biblical Criticism (Rollins 1983, Kille, 2001, 2004; Ellens, 2012). In the first part of this study a detailed review of current research on posttraumatic coping in the field of psychology is made. Then we examine exegetically four selected texts from 2 Corinthians that describe the ways in which Paul faced various traumatic events in his life. Each paragraph is analyzed looking for the texts to show their world and their own sense, to then identify the hermeneutical keys of coping that are observed in them. After a careful analysis, eleven keys of coping present in the selected Pauline texts were categorized: 1) Paradoxical identity that marks the experience of the Apostle as a phenomenon of self-understanding that incorporates the awareness of fragility and constant vulnerability to hardship, but simultaneously united to the perception of itself as triumphant to adversity, thanks to its unconditional link with the sacred, manifested in Jesus as the Messiah; 2) Experience of faith understood as fidelity and perseverance, especially in the midst of tribulations, in such a way that resisting, overcoming and even growing out of suffering is described as an expression of authentic faith and genuine affection for Jesus as Lord; 3) Resignification of death and traumatic events, as circumstances of a negative nature that is relativized and whose harmful effects are not perceived as chronic; 4) Coping associated with an altruistic practice towards his brothers and sisters in faith; 5) Coping with a marked character of eschatological type; 6) Explicit and habitual expression of the traumatic events experienced, which implies taking charge of them, without denying nor evading them; 7) Detachment from the material or visible things, considering these aspects of life as facets of reality that are not definitive, but as manifestations of a preliminary plan that will disappear; 8) Identification with Jesus as a model of coping with extreme adversities; 9) Thanksgiving or gratitude, as a permanent practice, in both favorable and unfavorable circumstances; 10) Perception of the consoling presence of God constantly in the midst of suffering; and 11) Prayer described as a personal and community behavior of concrete beneficial influence in life. Finally, a conversation between these findings and the current psychological contributions on positive coping of trauma, allowed us to corroborate the significant similarities between the approaches of Paul regarding coping in extreme adverse events and the outcomes of this research on hardiness, resilience, posttraumatic growth and positive religious coping. Among the main conclusions reached in this investigation, we can highlight that Paul offered, in the analyzed texts of 2 Corinthians, coping modalities that showed a permanent search for "sense of coherence" (Antonovsky, 1979, 1984, 1987, 1993), which involves the comprehensibility, manageability and meaningfulness of adverse events, but in his case, from a fundamentally theological framework ("sense of theological coherence"). In addition, it was found, when looking for common factors in the coping keys observed in the Pauline texts, that these can be synthesized in the so called "theological virtues": faith, hope and love, besides the concept of identity in Christ, which function as dispositions that allow the religious/spiritual articulation of traumatic events, both on a personal and community level. The present study sought to develop a practical theology (defined as theological understanding of Christian praxis) of posttrau-matic coping in a Pauline perspective. We believe that this study has achieved a significant understanding of hardiness, resilience, posttraumatic growth and positive religious coping modalities, from a theological perspective, which can contribute to the development of new practices of pastoral care, especially in contexts of adversity.
This scoping review provides a summary of research findings on social support dynamics in the aftermath of disasters that occurred on the continent of Australia and Oceania between 1983 and 2013. Forty‐one studies, both quantitative and qualitative, that investigated different facets of postdisaster supportive interactions were summarized. All investigations examined disasters resulting from natural hazards, with majority of them conducted following events in Australia and New Zealand. The review revealed similar patterns of postdisaster social support dynamics that routinely unfold after disastrous events all over the world. Consistent with disaster mental health literature ‐ social support mobilization and social support deterioration processes were commonly documented. Salutary direct effects of supportive behaviors on postdisaster psychological distress were also highly evident. Most studies, however, posed research questions or hypotheses that lacked theoretical or empirical groundings. In conclusion, the review offers several recommendations on how to advance research examining postdisaster social support. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
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Four decades of theory and research on resilience in human development have yielded informative lessons for planning disaster response and recovery. In developmental theory, resilience following disaster could take multiple forms, including stress resistance, recovery, and positive transformation. Empirical findings suggest that fundamental adaptive systems play a key role in the resilience of young people facing diverse threats, including attachment, agency, intelligence, behavior regulation systems, and social interactions with family, peers, school, and community systems. Although human resilience research emphasizes the adaptive well-being of particular individuals, there are striking parallels in resilience theory across the developmental and ecological sciences. Preparing societies for major disasters calls for the integration of human research on resilience with the theory and knowledge gained from other disciplines concerned with resilience in complex, dynamic systems, and particularly. those systems that interact with human individuals as disaster unfolds.
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Introduction: Over the past decade, Australia has experienced prolonged drought and extensive flooding. It is argued that such events impact more significantly on rural communities than urban. Although there is a body of research investigating the effects of drought on mental and physical health in rural Australia, little research has examined the effects of flood and drought on wellbeing. This article explores the influence of drought and flood on the wellbeing of rural residents in New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Methods: Forty-six individuals living in four rural communities in NSW were recruited and asked their experience of flood and drought using in-depth semi-structured face to face interviews or focus groups. The study used a grounded hermeneutic approach to contextualise participants' experiences within a rural social and cultural construct. Results: Weather was found to be at the core of rural life, with flood and drought contributing to decreased wellbeing from stress, anxiety, loss and fear. Social connectedness was found to promote resilience in rural communities buffering the effects of flood and drought. Conclusions: Flood and drought have negative impacts on an individual's wellbeing. Although these negative effects were seen to be buffered by individual and community resilience, the long term emotional impact of flood and drought on rural communities needs to be further considered.
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Hurricane Katrina was one of the most devastating natural disasters in the U.S. history. The economic, physical, and psychological damage to survivors of Katrina may ultimately be incalculable. While this natural disaster affected all racial groups, it was low-income African Americans who disproportionately experienced the greatest suffering. This study examines factors related to psychological resilience in the Hurricane Katrina evacuee sample (N = 363) drawn from the Kaiser Washington Post Harvard Poll #2005 WPH020. The structural equation model (SEM) used explains 34% of the total variance on Katrina victims' resilience measured by their perceived sense of recovery. Findings suggest that those evacuees who reported psychological distress as a reaction to the disaster were less likely to report that they would fully recover from the disaster. All three Hurricane Katrina experience-related variables— being insured, home destruction, and human loss—have significant effects on psychological distress, with human loss having the strongest effect. Implications for practice and research are discussed.
In the past decade, resiliency among African Americans has been a major research topic. This paper explored the resilience of older African American Katrina survivors, specifically investigating gender coping strategies. Using in-depth interviews of older African American Katrina survivors, the study findings revealed that older African American Katrina survivors relied on a Higher Power to cope with the hurricane and its aftermath. Without exception, the study participants reported that their faith was essential to their coping with the tragedy. That connection to a Higher Power, though, did not necessarily translate into church membership. In addition to the survivors' relationship with God, the study found that gender coping strategies evolved. Though, historically, African Americans have engaged in Bible-reading over the generations, the study found that many of the males read inspirational books written by non-African-American authors. This finding suggests a convergence of traditionally African American religious materials with those of their White American counterparts. The implications of these findings to the coping literature focusing on African Americans are discussed.
Despite prolonged droughts over the last decade across rural South Australia the majority of farmers continue to farm. This research asks the questions, ‘what helps them to “get by”?’, and ‘does this mean that they are resilient?’. In this study, resilience implies a strengths-based approach to mental health and well-being whilst other drought response programs focus on identifying and responding to problems or deficits. In using resilience to understand mental health and wellbeing in farm families, we move beyond the perceptions that resilience is a series of traits or characteristics, which protect an individual from the impact of adversity. Instead, we view resilience as a systemic process embedded in the wider social contexts that enables individuals to make judgements and decisions for themselves, their families and their communities.