Disaster preparedness education in South Los Angeles faith-based organizations: A pilot study in promoting personal and community preparedness and resiliency


  • Ann C. Lin, BS
  • Rita V. Burke, PhD, MPH
  • Bridget M. Berg, MPH
  • Valerie M. Muller, MPH
  • Jeffrey S. Upperman, MD




faith-based, disaster, education, preparedness, Resiliency


Introduction: Faith-based organizations (FBOs) often provide crucial services to their communities during and after disasters, but they largely operate outside of the formal structures that manage disaster preparedness and response. Their status within communities and ability to reach broad populations make them potentially powerful groups to lead and promote health and safety initiatives. Thus, there is opportunity to reduce health and knowledge disparities and increase disaster resiliency by providing disaster preparedness education through FBOs.

Problem: This pilot study aims to assess and enhance the current level of disaster knowledge and preparedness of congregation members from six FBOs in the Los Angeles County South Service Planning Area (SPA 6) to promote their community's disaster resiliency.

Methods: A structured basic disaster education curriculum was implemented at six FBOs, and participants completed a questionnaire, pre-test and posttest, and satisfaction survey. Frequency distributions of survey questions and mean differences of pre- and post-test scores were obtained.

Results: Results of the questionnaire indicated that more than half of the participants had previous experience with disaster preparedness and had taken some steps toward stockpiling supplies but showed gaps in making concrete evacuation plans and meeting places. The mean disaster knowledge test score increased from 5.15 for the pre-test to 8.04 for the post-test (p < 0.0001). The participants reported high satisfaction with the seminar.

Conclusions: This pilot study demonstrated that there is interest, as well as need, within the faith-based community to increase personal and community disaster preparedness. The implementation of a structured disaster education seminar for congregation members showed significant immediate improvement in disaster knowledge of the participants.

Author Biographies

Ann C. Lin, BS

Division of Pediatric Surgery, Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California

Rita V. Burke, PhD, MPH

Division of Pediatric Surgery, Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California; Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California.

Bridget M. Berg, MPH

Division of Pediatric Surgery, Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California.

Valerie M. Muller, MPH

Division of Pediatric Surgery, Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California

Jeffrey S. Upperman, MD

Division of Pediatric Surgery, Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California; Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California.


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How to Cite

Lin, BS, A. C., R. V. Burke, PhD, MPH, B. M. Berg, MPH, V. M. Muller, MPH, and J. S. Upperman, MD. “Disaster Preparedness Education in South Los Angeles Faith-Based Organizations: A Pilot Study in Promoting Personal and Community Preparedness and Resiliency”. American Journal of Disaster Medicine, vol. 9, no. 4, Oct. 2014, pp. 287-96, doi:10.5055/ajdm.2014.0180.




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