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An Assessment of the Cultural Appropriateness of Emergency Preparedness Communication for Low Income Minorities

James, X.; Hawkins, A.; Rowel, R.
Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management

September 1, 2007

Effective methods of communication are vital to preparing the public for emergency events. Hurricane Katrina was an unfortunate example of the devastating consequences that can occur from inadequate communication prior to and during emergency events. The presence of health disparities exacerbates these consequences for vulnerable populations such as low-income minorities. To address the need for more research within this realm of public health, the Morgan State University School of Public Health and Policy implemented the Special Populations Bioterrorism Initiative to assess the experiences and needs of low income minorities affected by natural disasters in Maryland.As an extension of this initiative, a content analysis of web-based emergency preparedness risk communication materials collected from the 26 county and municipal emergency management offices in Maryland was conducted to determine their appropriateness in reaching low income African Americans and Latinos. The results illustrated a significant disparity in the amount of culturally tailored information available for these populations, as well as the need for improvement in developing and disseminating culturally appropriate emergency risk communication designed to reach low income minorities.