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King HC, Spritzer N, Al-Azzeh N. Perceived Knowledge, Skills, and Preparedness for Disaster Management Among Military Health Care Personnel. Military medicine. 2019 Oct 1; 184(9-10):e548-e554.
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Abstract: INTRODUCTION: The Indo-Asia-Pacific region has the highest incidence of natural disasters world-wide. Since 2000, approximately 1.6 billion people in this region have been affected by earthquakes, volcanos, tsunamis, typhoons, cyclones, and large-scale floods. The aftermath of disasters can quickly overwhelm available resources, resulting in loss of basic infrastructure, shelter, health care, food and water, and ultimately, loss of life.Over the last 12 years, US military forces have collaborated with countries throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region to enhance disaster preparedness and management during shipboard global health engagement missions. Military health care personnel are integral in this effort and have planned subject-matter expert exchanges, multidisciplinary conferences, courses, and hyper realistic simulated military-to-military training exercises related to disaster preparedness.Military health care providers are essential not only to providing international education and training, but also to ensuring optimal readiness to respond to future disasters in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region and worldwide. The ability to effectively respond to disasters and collaborate with other nations promotes international stability. Yet, few studies have examined disaster preparedness among US military health care personnel. This study aimed to assess knowledge, skills, and preparedness for disaster management among US military health care personnel preparing to deploy on a global health engagement mission. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A descriptive, cross-sectional study utilizing the Disaster Preparedness Evaluation Tool (DPET) examined self-reported perceptions of disaster preparedness among US military health care personnel preparing to deploy on a shipboard global health engagement mission. The DPET assessed perceived knowledge of disaster preparedness, disaster mitigation and response, and disaster recovery. Three hundred Hospital Corpsmen/Medics and officers in the Nurse Corps, Medical Corps, Medical Service Corps, and Dental Corps were invited to participate. One hundred fifty-four surveys were completed (response rate, 51%). Nineteen surveys were excluded from the analysis due to incomplete responses. Participants rated responses to 46 Likert items (scale of 1-6) and responded to 23 descriptive items. The study protocol was approved by the Naval Medical Center San Diego Institutional Review Board, protocol number NMCSD.2017.0061, in compliance with all applicable federal regulations governing the protection of human subject research. RESULTS: All item mean scores on each of the three DPET subscales resulted in moderate levels of perceived disaster preparedness among military healthcare personnel (disaster preparedness means ranged from 3.04 to 4.67, disaster response means ranged from 3.76 to 4.29, and disaster recovery means ranged from 3.47 to 4.29). The final regression model had 6 significant variables that predicted DPET scores: previous disaster drills (p = 0.00), experiencing a real disaster (p = 0.002), bioterrorism training (p = 0.02), education level (p = 0.025), years in specialty (p = 0.019), and previous global health engagement missions (p = 0.016), with R2 = 0.39, R2adj = 0.36, F (7, 127) = 12.04. CONCLUSIONS: Disaster preparedness among military healthcare personnel could be improved to function optimally for future global health engagement missions. This study expands current understandings of disaster preparedness among US military health care providers and identifies ways to improve and enhance training.

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