When catastrophic disasters such as Hurricane Katrina strike, psychologists and other mental health professionals often wonder how to use resources and fill needed roles. We argue that conducting clinical research in response to disasters is 1 important way that these professionals can contribute. However, we recognize that designing and implementing a clinical research study can be a daunting task, particularly in the context of the personal and system-wide chaos that follows most disasters. Thus, we offer a detailed description of our own experiences with conducting clinical research as part of our response to Hurricane Katrina. We describe our study design, recruitment and data collection efforts, and summarize and synthesize the lessons we have learned from this endeavor. Our hope is that others who may wish to conduct disaster-related research will learn from our mistakes and successes.
clinical research; disasters; Hurricane Katrina; roles
In the week before Hurricane Katrina's landfall in August 2005, emergency management officials in Jefferson County (Birmingham), Alabama, began to make plans for the potential influx of evacuees from the Gulf Coast. No pharmacy component to the plan was in place at that time. The Jefferson County Department of Health (JCDH) discovered that local pharmacies and hospital emergency departments were dealing with significant requests for medication refills. JCDH, in cooperation with a local school of pharmacy, developed a plan for addressing the unforeseen need for routine prescription refills by evacuees. This article discusses this novel pharmacy plan and lessons learned from the event, and may serve as a model for other municipalities and/or states interested in preparing a pharmacy response to future natural disasters.
Keith C. Ferdinand, MD, FACC, presently resides in Atlanta, GA, displaced from his native New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina, September 2005. The hurricane destroyed hiss cardiovascular center and severely damaged his home. In Atlanta, he is director of the Association of Black Cardiologists Hurricane Katrina Relief.
Health has improved in Cuba and China during the past quarter of a century. Some of the improvements in health occurred as economic conditions improved in both countries, but there are other similarities of health care delivery in China and Cuba. Collective activity plays an important role in health care in both nations; both do health planning centrally, but local communities control the daily activities of the health services that they use. Techniques that have improved health in underdeveloped nations might be applied in underserved areas of the United States.
During the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, a new city was born overnight within the City of Houston to provide accommodation and health services for thousands of evacuees deprived of food, rest, medical attention, and sanitation . The hurricane victims had been exposed to flood water, toxic materials, physical injury, and mental stress. This scenario was an invitation for a variety of public health hazards, primarily infectious disease outbreaks. Early detection and monitoring of morbidity and mortality among evacuees due to unattended health conditions was an urgent priority and called for deployment of real-time surveillance to collect and analyze data at the scene, and to enable and guide appropriate response and planning activities .
To address this need, the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHSC) and the Houston Department of Health and Human Services (HDHHS) deployed an ad hoc surveillance system overnight by leveraging Internet-based technologies and Services Oriented Architecture (SOA) [3, 4].
The system was post-coordinated through the orchestration of Web Services such as information integration, natural language processing, UMLS terminology services, syndromic case finding, and online analytical processing (OLAP) . Here we will report the use of Internet-based and distributed architectures in providing timely, novel, and customizable solutions just in time for unprecedented events such as natural disasters.
Hurricane Katrina was one of the most catastrophic natural disasters to hit the United States. It had a major impact on health care in New Orleans, LA and the surrounding region, not only in relation to acute illness but also chronic disease. When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans on August 29, 2005, there were 193 participants being followed in the Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes (ACCORD) Trial at Tulane University Health Sciences Center. In the immediate aftermath of the storm, the Tulane University ACCORD Study site, in collaboration with the Study Coordinating Center and the Southeast Clinical Center Network office of the trial at Wake Forest University Health Sciences in North Carolina, took several actions in order to locate the participants, ensure their safety, and maintain the scientific integrity of the trial. We describe the actions taken and the relative success/failure of such actions.
To understand the roles of nurses with advanced training in paediatrics in the Solomon Islands, and the importance of these roles to child health. To understand how adequately equipped child health nurses feel for these roles, to identify the training needs, difficulties and future opportunities.
Tertiary hospital, district hospitals and health clinics in the Solomon Islands.
Twenty-one paediatric nurses were interviewed out of a total of 27 in the country.
All nurses were currently employed in teaching, clinical or management areas. At least one or two nurses were working in each of 7 of the 9 provinces; in the two smaller provinces there were none. Many nurses were sole practitioners in remote locations without back-up from doctors or other experienced nurses; all had additional administrative or public health duties. Different types of courses were identified: a residential diploma through the University of Papua New Guinea or New Zealand and a diploma by correspondence through the University of Sydney.
Child health nurses in the Solomon Islands fulfill vital clinical, public health, teaching and administrative roles. Currently they are too few in number, and this is a limiting factor for improving the quality of child health services in that country. Current methods of training require overseas travel, or are expensive, or lack relevance, or remove nurses from their work-places and families for prolonged periods of time. A local post-basic child health nursing course is urgently needed, and models exist to achieve this.
Solomon Islands; Child health; Nurses; Developing countries; Pacific Islands
More details have emerged about the child B leukaemia case with the publication of the All England Law Report on the Appeal Court decision. At the time the view was widely held that the controversy might have been avoided if the responsible health authority had consulted the public. The law report reveals, however, that the courts adopted a moral language widely at variance with that of the patient's doctor. The courts were concerned to support a utilitarian decision procedure based on calculations of the greatest overall good; the doctor was concerned with the best interests of a sick child. The doctor-patient relationship may be damaged when public consideration transforms the issue in this way. Also, the Appeal Court supported a decision which claimed to have "weighed" opposing evaluations, but it excused the health authority from describing how that weighing took place. One of the main criticisms of the utilitarian approach, however, is that weighing of this type is extremely difficult to justify. By its ruling the court has made legal challenge on the grounds of inadequate consultation virtually impossible to substantiate.
Establishing healthy habits in youth can help prevent many chronic health problems later in life that are attributable to unhealthy eating, sedentary lifestyle, and overweight. For this reason, many public health professionals are interested in working with school systems to reach children in school settings. However, a lack of familiarity with how schools operate can be a substantial impediment to developing effective partnerships with schools.
We describe lessons learned from three successful school health promotion programs that were developed and disseminated through collaborations between public health professionals, academic institutions, and school personnel. The programs include two focused on physical activity and good nutrition for elementary and middle school children — Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH) and Planet Health — and one focused on smoking cessation among adolescents — Not-On-Tobacco (N-O-T).
Important features of these school health programs include 1) identification of staff and resources required for program implementation and dissemination; 2) involvement of stakeholders (e.g., teachers, students, other school personnel, parents, nonprofit organizations, professional organizations) during all phases of program development and dissemination; 3) planning for dissemination of programs early in the development and testing process; and 4) rigorous evaluation of interventions to determine their effectiveness. The authors provide advice based on lessons learned from these programs to those who wish to work with young people in schools.
Severe early childhood caries (S-ECC) affects 17% of 2-3 year old children in South Australia impacting on their general health and well-being. S-ECC is largely preventable by providing mothers with anticipatory guidance. Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) are the most decisive way to test this, but that approach suffers from near inevitable loss to follow-up that occurs with preventative strategies and distant outcome assessment.
We re-examined the results of an RCT to prevent S-ECC using sensitivity analyses and multiple imputation to test different assumptions about violation of random allocation (1%) and major loss to follow-up (32%). Irrespective of any assumptions about missing outcomes, providing expectant mothers with anticipatory guidance during pregnancy and in the child’s first year of life, significantly reduced the incidence of S-ECC at 20 months of age. However, the relative risk of S-ECC varied from 0.18 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.06 – 0.52) to 0.70 (95% CI: 0.56 – 0.88). Also the ‘number needed to treat’ (NNT) to prevent one case of S-ECC varied 2.5-fold: from 8 to 20 women given anticipatory guidance. Multiple imputation provided a best estimate of 0.25 (95% CI: 0.11 – 0.56) for the relative risk and of 14 (95% CI: 10 – 33) for the number needed to treat.
Avoiding loss to follow-up is crucial in any RCT, but is difficult with preventative health care strategies. Instead of abandoning randomisation in such circumstances, sensitivity analyses and multiple imputation can consolidate the findings of an RCT and add extra value to the conclusions derived from it.
Health promotion; early childhood caries; randomized controlled trial; multiple imputation; intention-to-treat; number needed to treat; sensitivity analysis; pregnancy; Zelen design.
The most effective way to provide support to caregivers with infants in order to promote good health, social, emotional and developmental outcomes is the subject of numerous debates in the literature. In Canada, each province adopts a different approach which range from universal to targeted programs. Nonetheless, each year a group of vulnerable infants is identified to the child welfare system with concerns about their well-being and safety. This study examines maltreatment-related investigations in Canada involving children under the age of one year to identify which factors determine service provision at the conclusion of the investigation.
A secondary analysis of the Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect CIS-2008 (PHAC, 2010) dataset was conducted. Multivariate analyses were conducted to understand the profile of investigations involving infants (n=1,203) and which predictors were significant in the decision to transfer a case to ongoing services at the conclusion of the investigation. Logistic Regression and Classification and Regression Trees (CART) were conducted to examine the relationship between the outcome and predictors.
The results suggest that there are three main sources that refer infants to the Canadian child welfare system: hospital, police, and non-professionals. Infant maltreatment-related investigations involve young caregivers who struggle with poverty, single-parenthood, drug/solvent and alcohol abuse, mental health issues, lack of social supports, and intimate partner violence. Across the three referral sources, primary caregiver risk factors are the strongest predictor of the decision to transfer a case to ongoing services.
Multivariate analyses indicate that the presence of infant concerns does not predict ongoing service provision, except when the infant is identified with positive toxicology at birth. The opportunity for early intervention and the need to tailor interventions for specific caregiver risk factors is discussed.
Child welfare; Child maltreatment; Infants; Young parents; Referral source; Decision-making; Ongoing services
The implementation and utilization of programmes for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV in most low income countries has been described as sub-optimal. As planners and service providers, the views of health workers are important in generating priorities to improve the effectiveness of the PMTCT programme in Uganda. We explored the lessons learnt by health workers involved in the provision of PMTCT services in eastern Uganda to better understand what more needs to be done to strengthen the PMTCT programme.
A qualitative study was conducted at Mbale Regional Referral Hospital, The AIDS Support Organisation (TASO) Mbale and at eight neighbouring health centres in eastern Uganda, between January and May 2010. Data were collected through 24 individual interviews with the health workers involved in the PMTCT programme and four key informants (2 district officials and 2 officials from TASO). Data were analyzed using the content thematic approach. Study themes and sub-themes were identified following multiple reading of interview transcripts. Relevant quotations have been used in the presentation of study findings.
The key lessons for programme improvement were: ensuring constant availability of critical PMTCT supplies, such as HIV testing kits, antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) for mothers and their babies, regular in-service training of health workers to keep them abreast with the rapidly changing knowledge and guidelines for PMTCT, ensuring that lower level health centres provide maternity services and ARVs for women in the PMTCT programme and provision of adequate facilities for effective follow-up and support for mothers.
The voices of health workers in this study revealed that it is imperative for government, civil society organizations and donors that the PMTCT programme addresses the challenges of shortage of critical PMTCT supplies, continuous health worker training and follow-up and support for mothers as urgent needs to strengthen the PMTCT programme.
Although child sexual abuse (CSA) is recognized as a serious violation of human well-being and of the law, no community has yet developed mechanisms that ensure that none of their youth will be sexually abused. CSA is, sadly, an international problem of great magnitude that can affect children of all ages, sexes, races, ethnicities, and socioeconomic classes. Upon invitation, this current publication aims at providing a brief overview of a few lessons we have learned from CSA scholarly research as to heighten awareness of mental health professionals on this utmost important and widespread social problem. This overview will focus on the prevalence of CSA, the associated mental health outcomes, and the preventive strategies to prevent CSA from happening in the first place.
Child sexual abuse; Review; Prevalence; Mental health outcomes; Prevention
Health planners should base program decisions on the best information available. Combining information from different sources can be valuable in identifying problems--the essential first step in program planning. To facilitate this process, a workshop was conducted during the National Infant Mortality Surveillance Conference in Atlanta, GA. Maternal and child health directors explored the use of linked birth and infant death data for program planning and evaluation. Linked birth and infant death certificate files permit evaluation of infant mortality by birth weight and other infant and maternal characteristics, thus providing more detailed information than birth or death certificates alone. An assessment of the birth weight distribution of live births, birth weight specific-mortality risks, distribution of deaths by birth weight, and birth weight-specific causes of death can help identify problems in the childbearing population and with the delivery of health services. Once the infant health problems are defined clearly, the selection and delivery of services can be better targeted and evaluated for the reduction of these problems.
After two birth peaks and the “one child per family” policy, China is facing unprecedented challenges with regard to its aging population. This article analyzes the problems associated with three traditional ways of caring for older Chinese, the current health care system, and social supports available to older Chinese. The “4-2-1” family structure and the “empty nest” undermine family support, the prevalence of chronic illnesses and lack of money reduce older adults’selfcare abilities, and insufficient care facilities threaten social support. Lessons learned from the United States show that community-based nursing models, nursing curriculum reforms with a gerontology focus, and reformed health care systems are pivotal for addressing China’s crisis.
aging population; gerontological nursing; China; Chinese; community-based care; health care system
National, state, and local policies aim to change school environments to prevent child obesity. Community-based participatory research (CBPR) can be effective in translating public health policy into practice.
We describe lessons learned from developing and pilot testing a middle school-based obesity prevention intervention using CBPR in Los Angeles, California.
We formed a community–academic partnership between the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and the UCLA/RAND Center for Adolescent Health Promotion to identify community needs and priorities for addressing adolescent obesity and to develop and pilot test a school-based intervention.
Academic partners need to be well-versed in organizational structures and policies. Partnerships should be built on relationships of trust, shared vision, and mutual capacity building, with genuine community engagement at multiple levels.
These lessons are critical, not only for partnering with schools on obesity prevention, but also for working in other community settings and on other health issues.
Obesity prevention; adolescence; schools; community-based participatory research; lessons learned
The Risk Drinking Project was a national implementation endeavour in Sweden, carried out from 2004 to 2010, based on a government initiative to give alcohol issues a more prominent place in routine primary, child, maternity and occupational health care. The article describes and analyses the project. Critical factors that were important for the results are identified. The magnitude of the project contributed to its reach and impact in terms of providers’ awareness of the project goals and key messages. The timing of the project was appropriate. The increase in alcohol consumption in Sweden and diminished opportunities for primary prevention strategies since entry to the European Union in 1995 have led to increased expectations for health care providers to become more actively involved in alcohol prevention. This awareness provided favourable conditions for this project. A multifaceted approach was used in the project. Most educational courses were held in workshops and seminars to encourage learning-by-doing. Motivational interviewing was an integral aspect. The concept of risk drinking was promoted in all the activities. Subprojects were tailored to the specific conditions of each respective setting, building on the skills the providers already had to modify existing work practices. Nurses were afforded a key role in the project.
alcohol; brief intervention; secondary prevention; public health; risk drinking; implementation; continuing professional education
Exposure to multiple traumatic events and high rates of mental health problems are common among juvenile offenders. This study draws on Conservation of Resources (COR) stress theory to examine the impact of a specific trauma, Hurricane Katrina, relative to other adverse life events on the mental health of female adolescent offenders in Mississippi. Teenage girls (N = 258, 69% African American) were recruited from 4 juvenile detention centers and the state training school. Participants were interviewed about the occurrence and timing of adverse life events and hurricane-related experiences and completed a self-administered mental health assessment. Hierarchical linear regression models were used to identify predictors of anxiety and depression. Pre-hurricane family stressors, pre-hurricane traumatic events, hurricane-related property damage, and receipt of hurricane-related financial assistance significantly predicted symptoms of anxiety and depression. Findings support COR theory. Family stressors had the greatest influence on symptoms of anxiety and depression, highlighting the need for family-based services that address the multiple, inter-related problems and challenges in the lives of female juvenile offenders.
female juvenile offenders; hurricane exposure; family stressors; anxiety; depression
It took over two decades to achieve the removal of leaded gasoline in this country. This was despite international evidence and original research conducted in New Zealand on the harm to child cognitive function and behaviour from lead exposure.
To identify lessons from the New Zealand experience of removing leaded gasoline that are potentially relevant to the control of other environmental pollutants.
From the available documentation, we suggest a number of reasons for the slow policy response to the leaded gasoline hazard. These include: (1) industry power in the form of successful lobbying by the lead additive supplier, Associated Octel; (2) the absence of the precautionary principle as part of risk management policy; and (3) weak policymaking machinery that included: (a) the poor use of health research evidence (from both NZ and internationally), as well as limited use of expertise in academic and non-governmental organisations; (b) lack of personnel competent in addressing technically complex issues; and (c) diffusion of responsibility among government agencies.
There is a need for a stronger precautionary approach by policymakers when considering environmental pollutants. Politicians, officials and health workers need to strengthen policymaking processes and effectively counter the industry tactics used to delay regulatory responses.
Objective—To explore parental knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and barriers to use of booster seats in cars for 4–8 year old children.
Methods—Three focus groups conducted by a professional marketing firm.
Results—Many parents were confused about the appropriate weight and age of children who should be in booster seats; most parents incorrectly identified the age at which it was safe to use a lap-shoulder belt. Legislation was viewed as a positive factor in encouraging use. Cost of seats was frequently cited as a barrier to ownership, as were child resistance, peer pressure from older children, the need to accommodate other children in the vehicle, and the belief that a lap belt was adequate. Messages from health care providers, emergency medical services, or law enforcement personnel were believed to be most effective.
Conclusion—Campaigns to promote booster seat use should address issues of knowledge about appropriate age and size of the child, cost, inadequacy of lap belts, and resistance to use by the child.
Traditionally, HIV prevention focuses on individual behaviours that place one at risk for HIV infection. Less widely regarded as a fundamental public health issue is parental depression and the detrimental effects it exerts on infant and child development, as well as its key contribution to non-fatal burden. Much like many HIV prevention and treatment interventions, programmes for depression focus almost exclusively on individuals and individual behaviour. This paper will use the extensive evidence base from research into parental depression as a model to argue for a family based approach to HIV prevention and treatment. The aim of this will be to make a case for targeting a broader set of behaviours that occur within families when developing and implementing interventions.
Adoption of new vaccines in developing countries is critical to reducing child mortality and meeting Millennium Development Goal 4. However, such introduction has historically suffered from significant delays that can be attributed to various factors including (i) lack of recognition of the value of a vaccine, (ii) factors related to weak health systems, and (iii) policy considerations. Recently, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) supported efforts to accelerate the introduction of Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccines in developing countries, which resulted in a significant surge in vaccine adoption by these countries. The experience with Hib vaccines, as well as similar efforts by GAVI to support the introduction of new pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines, provides a strategy for new vaccine adoption that is reviewed in this paper, providing a useful model to help accelerate the uptake of other life-saving vaccines. This strategy addresses barriers for vaccine adoption by focusing on three major areas: (i) communications to increase awareness about the various factors needed for evidence-based decisions that meet a country's health goals; (ii) research activities to answer key questions that support vaccine introduction and long-term programme sustainability; and (iii) coordination with the various stakeholders at global, regional and country levels to ensure successful programme implementation.
vaccination; Haemophilus influenza type b; Hib initiative; Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization
Mother-to-child transmission of HIV can be reduced to<5% with appropriate antiretroviral medications. Such reductions depend on multiple health system encounters during antenatal care (ANC), delivery and breastfeeding; in countries with limited access to care, transmission remains high. In Lesotho, where 28% of women attending ANC are HIV positive but where geographic and other factors limit access to ANC and facility deliveries, a Minimum PMTCT Package was launched in 2007 as an alternative to the existing facility-based approach. Distributed at the first ANC visit, it packaged together all necessary pregnancy, delivery and early postnatal antiretroviral medications for mother and infant.
To examine the availability, feasibility, acceptability and possible negative consequences of the Minimum PMTCT Package, data from a 2009 qualitative and quantitative study and a 2010 facility assessment were used. To examine the effects on ANC and facility-based delivery rates, a difference-in-differences analytic approach was applied to 2009 Demographic and Health Survey data for HIV-tested women who gave birth before and after Minimum PMTCT Package implementation.
The Minimum PMTCT Package was feasible and acceptable to providers and clients. Problems with test kit and medicine stock-outs occurred, and 46% of women did not receive the Minimum PMTCT Package until at least their second ANC visit. Providing adequate instruction on the use of multiple medications represented a challenge. The proportion of HIV-positive women delivering in facilities declined after Minimum PMTCT Package implementation, although it increased among HIV-negative women (difference-in-differences=14.5%, p=0.05). The mean number of ANC visits declined more among HIV-positive women than among HIV-negative women after implementation, though the difference was not statistically significant (p=0.09). Changes in the percentage of women receiving≥4 ANC visits did not differ between the two groups.
If supply issues can be resolved and adequate client educational materials provided, take-away co-packages have the potential to increase access to PMTCT commodities in countries where women have limited access to health services. However, efforts must be made to carefully monitor potential changes in ANC visits and facility deliveries, and further evaluation of adherence, safety and effectiveness are needed.
mother-to-child transmission of HIV; PMTCT; Lesotho; HIV/AIDS; co-packaging; Minimum PMTCT Package
Little is known about the effects of natural disasters on pregnancy outcomes. We studied mental health and birth outcomes among women exposed to Hurricane Katrina.
We collected data prospectively from a cohort of 301 women from New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Pregnant women were interviewed during pregnancy about their experiences during the hurricane, as well as whether they had experienced symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/or depression. High hurricane exposure was defined as having three or more of the eight severe hurricane experiences, such as feeling that one's life was in danger, walking through floodwaters, or having a loved one die.
The frequency of low birth weight was higher in women with high hurricane exposure (14.0%) than women without high hurricane exposure (4.7%), with an adjusted odds ratio (aOR): 3.3; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.13−9.89; p<0.01. The frequency of preterm birth was higher in women with high hurricane exposure (14.0%) than women without high hurricane exposure (6.3%), with aOR: 2.3; 95% CI: 0.82−6.38; p>0.05. There were no significant differences in the frequency of low birth weight or preterm birth between women with PTSD or depression and women without PTSD or depression (p>0.05).
Women who had high hurricane exposure were at an increased risk of having low birth weight infants. Rather than a general exposure to disaster, exposure to specific severe disaster events and the intensity of the disaster experience may be better predictors of poor pregnancy outcomes. To prevent poor pregnancy outcomes during and after disasters, future disaster preparedness may need to include the planning of earlier evacuation of pregnant women to minimize their exposure to severe disaster events.
Depression; disaster; low birth weight; post-traumatic stress disorder; pregnancy
Hurricane Katrina, which struck the Gulf Coast of the United States in August 2005, exposed area residents to trauma and extensive property loss. However, little is known about the long-run effects of the hurricane on the mental health of those who were exposed. This study documents long-run changes in mental health among a particularly vulnerable group—low income mothers—from before to after the hurricane, and identifies factors that are associated with different recovery trajectories. Longitudinal surveys of 532 low-income mothers from New Orleans were conducted approximately one year before, 7 to 19 months after, and 43 to 54 months after Hurricane Katrina. The surveys collected information on mental health, social support, earnings and hurricane experiences. We document changes in post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS), as measured by the Impact of Event Scale-Revised, and symptoms of psychological distress (PD), as measured by the K6 scale. We find that although PTSS has declined over time after the hurricane, it remained high 43 to 54 months later. PD also declined, but did not return to pre-hurricane levels. At both time periods, psychological distress before the hurricane, hurricane-related home damage, and exposure to traumatic events were associated with PTSS that co-occurred with PD. Hurricane-related home damage and traumatic events were associated with PTSS without PD. Home damage was an especially important predictor of chronic PTSS, with and without PD. Most hurricane stressors did not have strong associations with PD alone over the short or long run. Over the long run, higher earnings were protective against PD, and greater social support was protective against PTSS. These results indicate that mental health problems, particularly PTSS alone or in co-occurrence with PD, among Hurricane Katrina survivors remain a concern, especially for those who experienced hurricane-related trauma and had poor mental health or low socioeconomic status before the hurricane.
Mental health; natural disasters; Hurricane Katrina; USA; women