Participatory action research methodology in disaster research: Results from the world trade center evacuation study

Robyn R.M. Gershon, Marcie S. Rubin, Kristine A. Qureshi, Allison N. Canton, Frederick J. Matzner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Participatory action research (PAR) methodology is an effective tool in identifying and implementing risk-reduction interventions. It has been used extensively in occupational health research, but not, to our knowledge, in disaster research. A PAR framework was incorporated into the World Trade Center evacuation study, which was designed to identify the individual, organizational, and structural (environmental) factors that affected evacuation from the World Trade Center Towers 1 and 2 on September 11, 2001. PAR teams-comprising World Trade Center evacuees, study investigators, and expert consultants-worked collaboratively to develop a set of recommendations designed to facilitate evacuation from high-rise office buildings and reduce risk of injury among evacuees. Methods: Two PAR teams worked first separately and then collectively to identify data-driven strategies for improvement of high-rise building evacuation. Results: The teams identified interventions targeting individual, organizational, and structural (environmental) barriers to safe and rapid evacuation. Conclusions: PAR teams were effective in identifying numerous feasible and cost-effective strategies for improvement of high-rise emergency preparedness and evacuation. This approach may have utility in other workplace disaster prevention planning and response programs. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2008;2:142-149)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)142-149
Number of pages8
JournalDisaster medicine and public health preparedness
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 2008


  • Evacuation
  • High-rise buildings
  • Participatory action research teams
  • Workplace

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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