Nurses' preparedness and perceived competence in managing disasters

J Nurs Scholarsh. 2013 Sep;45(3):281-7. doi: 10.1111/jnu.12029. Epub 2013 Apr 9.


Purpose: This article is a descriptive analysis of rural nurses' perceived readiness to manage disaster situations.

Design and methods: The 58-item Disaster Readiness Questionnaire was used to survey hospital-based nurses from rural communities in Texas during the summer of 2011. The data were collected by emailing a link through the various hospital intranet sites, resulting in a sample size of 620 nurses.

Results: Findings revealed that most nurses are not confident in their abilities to respond to major disaster events. The nurses who were confident were more likely to have had actual prior experience in disasters or shelters. Self-regulation of behavior (motivation) was a significant predictor of perceived nurse competence to manage disasters only in regard to the nurse's willingness to assume the risk of involvement in a disaster situation. Healthcare climate (job satisfaction) was not a determinant of disaster preparedness.

Conclusions: Global increases in natural and human-induced disasters have called attention to the part that health providers play in mitigation and recovery. Since nurses are involved in planning, mitigation, response, and recovery aspects of disasters, they should actively seek opportunities to participate in actual disaster events, mock drills, and further educational opportunities specific to disaster preparedness. Administrators must support and encourage disaster preparedness education of nurses to promote hospital readiness to provide community care delivery in the event of a disaster situation.

Clinical relevance: Nursing comprises the largest healthcare workforce, and yet there is very little research examining nurses' readiness for disaster.

Keywords: Disasters; disaster preparedness nursing; emergency preparedness; nursing research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Disaster Planning / organization & administration*
  • Hospitals, Rural
  • Humans
  • Nursing Evaluation Research
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / psychology*
  • Rural Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Self Efficacy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Texas