Health effects of relocation following disaster: a systematic review of the literature

Disasters. 2009 Mar;33(1):1-22. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7717.2008.01059.x. Epub 2008 May 21.


This paper reviews the literature on the effects of post-disaster relocation on physical and mental heath, and develops a conceptual framework to guide future research. Forty articles were selected for full-text review and incorporation into the conceptual framework. Twenty-four articles were reviewed for results and methodology. These overwhelmingly tracked mental health outcomes. Only four (16 per cent) focused on physical health. Eight of ten showed an association between relocation and psychological morbidity. Certain outcomes (such as mortality, injury and cardiovascular disease risk factors) revealed inconsistent results, but these were rarely studied. Despite the frequency of post-disaster relocation and evidence of its effect on psychological morbidity, there is a relative paucity of studies; the few examples in the literature reveal weak study designs, inconsistent results, and inattention to physical health impacts and the challenges facing vulnerable populations. Further research guided by theory is needed to inform emergency preparedness and recovery policy.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Disasters*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders
  • Mental Health*
  • Transients and Migrants
  • Vulnerable Populations*