COVID-19 And Psychological Disaster Preparedness - An Unmet Need

Disaster Med Public Health Prep. 2020 Jun 25;1-9. doi: 10.1017/dmp.2020.219. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Background: The COVID19 pandemic is a disaster of unprecedented proportions with global repercussions. Psychological preparedness, the primed cognitive awareness and anticipation of dealing with emotional responses in an adverse situation, has assumed a compelling relevance during a health disaster of this magnitude.

Methods: An anonymized eSurvey was conducted in India to assess psychological preparedness towards the ongoing pandemic with a focus on knowledge, management of own and others' emotional response and anticipatory coping mechanisms amongst the survey population. An adapted version of the qualitative Psychological Preparedness for Natural Disaster scale validated by the World Health Organization was widely circulated over the internet and various social media platforms for assessment. Results are expressed as median ± standard deviation). Descriptive stats were used and figures downloaded from surveymonkey.com.

Results: Of the 1120 respondents (M: F 1.7:1, age 35 years ±14.1) most expressed a high level of perceived knowledge and confidence of managing COVID-19, such as awareness of the symptoms of the illness (95.1%), actions needed (94.4%), hospital to report to (88.9%), and emergency contact number (89.1%). A majority monitored news bulletins and scientific journals regarding COVID-19 regularly (95%). However, nearly one-third (29.2%) could not assess their likelihood of developing COVID-19, and 17.5% were unaware of the difference between a mild and severe infection. Twenty- three per cent (23.3%) were unfamiliar with the materials needed in an acute illness situation.

Conclusion: Psychological disaster preparedness is reasonable, although lacking in specific domains. Timely but focused interventions can be a cost-efficient administrative exercise which federal agencies may prioritize working on.

Keywords: awareness; epidemic; knowledge; psychological preparedness; psychology; risk.