Integrating Racially and Ethnically Diverse Communities Into Planning for Disasters: The California Experience

Dennis P. Andrulis, Nadia J. Siddiqui, Jonathan P. Purtle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Racially/ethnically diverse communities suffer a disproportionate burden of adverse outcomes before, during and after a disaster. Using California as a locus of study, we sought to identify challenges and barriers to meeting the preparedness needs of these communities and highlight promising strategies, gaps in programs, and future priorities. Methods: We conducted a literature review, environmental scan of organizational Web sites providing preparedness materials for diverse communities, and key informant interviews with public health and emergency management professionals. Results: We identified individual-level barriers to preparing diverse communities such as socioeconomic status, trust, culture, and language, as well as institutional-level barriers faced by organizations such as inadequate support for culturally/linguistically appropriate initiatives. Current programs to address these barriers include language assistance services, community engagement strategies, cross-sector collaboration, and community assessments. Enhancing public-private partnerships, increasing flexibility in allocating funds and improving organizational capacity for diversity initiatives were all identified as additional areas of programmatic need. Conclusions: Our study suggests at least four intervention priorities for California and across the United States: engaging diverse communities in all aspects of emergency planning, implementation, and evaluation; mitigating fear and stigma; building organizational cultural competence; and enhancing coordination of information and resources. In addition, this study provides a methodological model for other states seeking to assess their capacity to integrate diverse communities into preparedness planning and response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-234
Number of pages8
JournalDisaster medicine and public health preparedness
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 1 2011


  • California
  • community health planning
  • community participatory planning
  • cultural competency
  • disaster planning
  • disaster preparedness
  • diverse populations
  • ethnic groups
  • minority health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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