Natural disasters are increasing in incidence and severity in recent decades and have brought adverse consequences to human and the economy. Relief workers will get involved in more traumatic situations which expose them to stress that in turn, affect workers’ emotion well-being and their physical health. However, only limited literatures documented the health-related impacts of natural disasters on medical/healthcare relief workers. This review aims to analyse different health outcomes of medical/healthcare disaster relief workers in natural disaster settings.
A bilingual search of publicly available health-related literatures published between 1945 and August 2011 was performed. Chinese databases used include Chinese Journal Full-text Database (CJFD) and Wanfang Database. International databases chosen include PubMed, MEDLINE, PsycInfo etc. Internet search engine was also used. Natural disaster, medical/healthcare relief worker, health condition and other related terms were searched as keywords.
All articles mentioned about the negative physical health outcomes such as physical fatigue/ tiredness, decrease in appetite and sleep disturbance. For psychological health, positive outcomes included sense of gratefulness and touched, sense of satisfaction and happiness for being able to help people and give care. Negative outcomes were Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or PTSD symptoms, anxiety, depression, sense of helplessness and hopelessness and uncertainty. Positive aspects of social well-being were able to be more caring and having supporting relationships with others. Negative aspects included adverse impact on workers’ social and occupational life by PTSD symptoms, deterioration in relationships with colleagues and failure to cope with job demand.
Medical/healthcare relief workers in natural disaster settings suffered from various forms of physical, psychological and social health impacts. Further attention should be paid to their health needs and different measures are needed to improve the workers’ health status.
Learning Objectives: Analyse different health outcomes of medical/healthcare disaster relief workers in natural disaster settings