DISASTER PSYCHIATRY: PRINCIPLES
Ann E. Norwood, M.D., Robert J. Ursano, M.D., and
Carol S. Fullerton, Ph.D.
Increasingly, trauma and disasters are part of everyday life. Psychiatrists can
play an important role in assisting individuals and communities to recover. They
bring a unique set of skills and experiences that can be invaluable in minimizing
morbidity and facilitating recovery. This paper discusses psychological, physio-
logical, behavioral, and community responses encountered in the aftermath of
a disaster. A preventive medicine model of understanding disaster response is
discussed in which the psychiatrist delineates traumatic stressors and high-risk
populations. The importance of psychiatric participation in disaster prepared-
ness is emphasized. Psychiatric interventions targeted at the various longitudi-
nal phases of disaster response are reviewed.
A wide host of traumatic events can surprise and stun commu-
nities. Natural disasters that strike without much notice, such
as tornadoes or earthquakes, represent such traumas. In addi-
tion, man-made traumas such as transportation disasters, fac-
The authors are afﬁliated with the Department of Psychiatry, Uniformed Ser-
vices University of The Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland.
Address correspondence to Carol S. Fullerton, Ph.D., Department of Psychia-
try, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, F. Edward He
School of Medicine, 4301 Jones Bridge Road, Bethesda, MD 20814-4799.
PSYCHIATRIC QUARTERLY, Vol. 71, No. 3, Fall 2000
0033-2720/00/0900-0207$18.00/0 2000 Human Sciences Press, Inc.