SOURCE: Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita, Wichita, KS 67214, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: Disasters pose a very real threat to every individual in the United States. One way to mitigate the threat of disasters is through personal preparedness, yet numerous studies indicate that individual Americans are not prepared for a disaster. This study attempted to identify the factors most likely to predict individual disaster preparedness. We used 2006 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data from the 5 states that included the optional general preparedness module. Respondents were defined as being “prepared” if they were deficient in no more than 1 of the 6 actionable preparedness measures included on the BRFSS. Analyses were conducted comparing preparedness rates based on medical and demographic factors. Using logistic regression, a predictive model was constructed to identify which factors most strongly predicted an individual’s likelihood of being prepared. Although 78% of respondents reported feeling prepared for a disaster, just 45% of respondents were actually prepared by objective measures. Factors predicting an increased likelihood of preparedness included feeling “well prepared” (OR 9.417), having a disability or health condition requiring special equipment (OR 1.298), being 55 to 64 years old (OR 1.794), and having an annual income above $50,000 (OR 1.286). Among racial and ethnic minorities, an inability to afford medical care in the previous year (OR .581) was an important factor in predicting a decreased likelihood of being prepared. This study revealed a pervasive lack of disaster preparedness overall and a substantial gap between perceived and objective preparedness. Income and age were important predictors of disaster preparedness.