Health Care Student Perceptions of Societal Vulnerability to Disasters in the Context of Population Aging

Peter Lucas*, Michael Annear, Wayne Harris, Helen Eyles, Auston Rotheram

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This paper reports on undergraduate health care students' perception of societal vulnerability to disasters in the context of population aging. Forecast increases in extreme weather events are likely to have a particularly devastating effect on older members of the community.Methods Undergraduate paramedicine and nursing students were surveyed using the Perceptions of Ageing and Disaster Vulnerability Scale (PADVS) to determine their views on the risks posed to older members of the community by disasters. Data analysis included a comparison of subscales relating to isolation, health system readiness, declining function, and community inclusiveness.Results Students reported a moderate level of concern about disaster vulnerability. Students who had previously completed another university degree reported significantly higher levels of concern than those without a prior degree. Australian students reported lower concern about societal vulnerability compared to a previously reported cohort of Japanese students.Conclusion Our study suggests current education of future health care students does not promote adequate levels of awareness of the health-related challenges posed by disasters, particularly among older members of the community. Without addressing this gap in education, the risk of negative outcomes for both unprepared first responders and older members of the community is significant. (Disaster Med Public Health Prep. 2019;13:449-455)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)449-455
Number of pages7
JournalDisaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Jun 1
Externally publishedYes


  • disasters
  • extreme weather events
  • health care students
  • population aging
  • vulnerability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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