Rapid Behavioral Health Assessment Post-disaster: Developing and Validating a Brief, Structured Module

Emily Goldmann, David M. Abramson, Rachael Piltch-Loeb, Amila Samarabandu, Valerie Goodson, Alejandro Azofeifa, Abby Hagemeyer, Nadia Al-Amin, Rob Lyerla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To develop and validate a brief, structured, behavioral health module for use by local public health practitioners to rapidly assess behavioral health needs in disaster settings. Data were collected through in-person, telephone, and web-based interviews of 101 individuals affected by Hurricanes Katrina (n = 44) and Sandy (n = 57) in New Orleans and New Jersey in April and May 2018, respectively. Questions included in the core module were selected based on convergent validity, internal consistency reliability, test–retest reliability across administration modes, principal component analysis (PCA), question comprehension, efficiency, accessibility, and use in population-based surveys. Almost all scales showed excellent internal consistency reliability (Cronbach’s alpha, 0.79–0.92), convergent validity (r > 0.61), and test–retest reliability (in-person vs. telephone, intra-class coefficient, ICC, 0.75–1.00; in-person vs. web-based ICC, 0.73–0.97). PCA of the behavioral health scales yielded two components to include in the module—mental health and substance use. The core module has 26 questions—including self-reported general health (1 question); symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety (Primary Care PTSD Screen, Patient Health Questionnaire-4; 8 questions); drinking and other substance use (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test-Concise, AUDIT-C; Drug Abuse Screening Test, DAST-10; stand-alone question regarding increased substance use since disaster; 14 questions); prior mental health conditions, treatment, and treatment disruption (3 questions)—and can be administered in 5–10 minutes through any mode. This flexible module allows practitioners to quickly evaluate behavioral health needs, effectively allocate resources, and appropriately target interventions to help promote recovery of disaster-affected communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)982-991
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Community Health
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Assessment
  • Behavioral health
  • Disasters
  • Validation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Rapid Behavioral Health Assessment Post-disaster: Developing and Validating a Brief, Structured Module'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this