Kristin Gaffney Presentation

Natural Disaster Stress and Recovery in Rural and Agricultural Settings

Kristin Gaffney, BA, graduate student, UNMC College of Public Health

Kristin Gaffney is a graduate student with the UNMC College of Public Health online program while living in central Arkansas. She plans to graduate with a Master of Public Health and a concentration in Biostatistics in May, 2022. She and her husband Dan have 6 adult children and have worked for a faith-based nonprofit for over 20 years.

Learning objectives:

  1. Participants will be able to identify 3 exposure factors associated with greater disaster stress in general populations.
  2. Participants will be able to identify 2 domains of post-disaster stress symptoms.

In 2014 tornadoes struck Mayflower-Vilonia, Arkansas, and Pilger, Nebraska. In 2019 record river flooding hit the same states. Disaster-affected communities sustained significant damage to infrastructure, personal property and crops. “The Rural Natural Disaster Stress and Recovery Survey” was created to gather data from these communities. We hypothesize 1) agricultural producers have different stress and recovery experiences compared to non-agricultural counterparts, 2) rural residents prefer community resources over external resources for disaster stress relief, and 3) communities can provide effective emotional health supports after disaster.

Literature provides little data on disaster stress and recovery in U.S. agricultural populations. Experiences and preferences merit study to inform related public health actions. While some papers have considered disaster mental or emotional health measures in rural populations, it is unknown whether agricultural producers have unique risk or resilience factors.

In addition to demographic information, the survey collects exposure, resilience, stress, and recovery measures. An investigator-designed inventory of Resource Use and Effect identifies people, groups, and activities and their stress effects following disaster. The survey will be available for future use.

This ongoing study is a cooperative effort between CS-CASH and community partners. Results will inform community preparedness plans and services of agricultural partner organizations.

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