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 practitionersto rapidlyassess behavioral health needs in disaster settings. Data were collected through in-person, telephone, and webbasedinterviewsof 101 individuals afected by Hurricanes Katrina (n = 44) and Sandy (n = 57) in New Orleans and NewJersey in Apriland May 2018, respectively. Questions included in the core module were selected based on convergent validity,internalconsistency reliability, test–retest reliability across administration modes, principal component analysis (PCA),questioncomprehension, eiciency, accessibility, and use in population-based surveys. Almost all scales showed excellentinternal consistencyreliability (Cronbach’s alpha, 0.79–0.92), convergent validity (r > 0.61), and test–retest reliability (inpersonvs. telephone,intra-class coeicient, ICC, 0.75–1.00; in-person vs. web-based ICC, 0.73–0.97). PCA of the behavioralhealth scales yieldedtwo components to include in the module—mental health and substance use. The core module has 26questions—includingself-reported general health (1 question); symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, andanxiety (Primary Care PTSD Screen,Patient Health Questionnaire-4; 8 questions); drinking and other substance use (AlcoholUse Disorders IdentiicationTest-Concise, AUDIT-C; Drug Abuse Screening Test, DAST-10; stand-alone question regardingincreased substance usesince disaster; 14 questions); prior mental health conditions, treatment, and treatment disruption (3questions)—and can beadministered in 5–10 minutes through any mode. This lexible module allows practitioners to quicklyevaluate behavioral healthneeds, efectively allocate resources, and appropriately target interventions to help promote recoveryof disaster-afectedcommunities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Community Health
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Assessment
  • Behavioral health
  • Disasters
  • Validation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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