Purpose: Disaster management is a topic that is multi-faceted and intricately maintained by professionals who volunteer their expertise and time to assist those who have been affected by an unforeseen disaster. Creating a well-rounded and effective team is of immense importance during disaster situations. Speech-language pathologists can provide vital skills in the realm of communication, feeding, and other areas. However, the role of speech language pathologists within the disaster management team is not well documented in the literature. The purpose of the study was to identify awareness, involvement, and training of speech language pathologists in disaster management stages through exploration of their self-reported knowledge, skills, and roles to better understand their likelihood of response and potential collaborative roles within a disaster management team. Method: To gather data on self-reported awareness, knowledge, skills, participation, training, and perceptions of speech language pathologists as part of the disaster management stage, a cross-sectional survey study was designed. The study specifically targeted licensed speech language pathologists within the state of Florida. Results: There were 216 viable survey responses to analyze. Descriptive and correlational analyses were conducted to examine how speech-language professionals perceive their fit in the arena of disaster management. Speech language pathologists who responded to this survey were primarily white, 40–49-year-old females who had experienced some form of disaster. Most respondents reported receiving no training in disaster management; however, they indicated that speech language pathologists and other healthcare professionals have unique skills that could contribute to disaster management stages. Although there was reportedly limited training and guidance available and minimal professional experience with disaster, speech language pathologists who reported having professional experience with disaster stages, indicated an increased likelihood of participating in future disaster management. Conclusions: Similar to interdisciplinary teams found in clinical practice, healthcare professionals need training and education about their roles to form teams to address the needs of individuals in all disaster management stages. Analyses indicated that speech language pathologists perceive themselves, and other healthcare professionals, could provide meaningful contributions to the disaster management team; however, they have not had adequate professional experience or training.

Author Bio(s)

Rebecca I. Estes, PhD, OTR/L, CAPS, ECHM has 15+ years administrative/faculty experience and 35+ years clinical experience. Research focus is disaster management, neurologically impaired adults, and aging-in-place. Service interests are medical reserve corps, hippotherapy, and Rebuilding Together. Publications include creativity/resilience, aging-in-place, assistive technology, hand therapy, and teaching methodologies.

Heather Berto, OTD-S, is a student from Nova Southeastern University's entry-level Doctor of Occupational Therapy program.

Hope Brew, OTD-S, is a student at Nova Southeastern University’s entry-level Doctor of Occupational Therapy program.

Sophia Cadet, OTD-S, is a student from Nova Southeastern University's entry-level Doctor of Occupational Therapy program

Kolbí L. Holmes, OTD-S is a graduate student in Nova Southeastern University’s entry-level Occupational Therapy doctorate program.

Leah Horst, OTD, OTR/L is a recent graduate of Nova Southeastern University’s Occupational Therapy doctorate program. Her fieldwork experience includes outpatient pediatrics and inpatient rehabilitation.

Annie Mehl OTD-S is a graduate student in Nova Southeastern University’s entry-level Occupational Therapy doctorate program.

Gina Delgado, OTD, OTR/L currently works in outpatient hand therapy. She has been a research assistant for 2+ years at Nova Southeastern University. She also serves as a teaching assistant at Rush University. Gina has interests in evidence-based practice, health literacy, research, and higher education.

Steven P. Vertz, M.S., CCC-SLP is the Associate Director of the MS-SLP program at Nova Southeastern University and an instructor in the Department of Speech-Language Pathology. An SLP for 36 years, his interests include speech sound disorders and cultural aspects of communication.



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