Military Nurses' Experiences in Disaster Response


Name: Felecia Rivers

Rank: MAJ, USA

Organization: The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Performance Site: The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Year Published: 2008

Abstract Status: Final


Purpose: To understand the essence of military nurses' lived experience of responding to disaster(s). Aims are to 1) explore experiences of military nurses who have been deployed in a disaster and 2) examine the potential impact the disaster response may have had on their lives. Research Question: "What is the experience of military nurses during and/or following a disaster response?" Rationale: Tri-Service Research Program seeks studies that enhance the capacity to provide for the health and well-being of the military. This particular research has special relevance to the military's provision of support for the thousands of nurses who deploy to scenes of catastrophe. Little is known about this group of nurses and their responses to the stresses of disaster, yet the military has a duty to provide for the health and well-being of its corps, regardless of where they are deployed. Without first-person accounts of the disaster experience, there is no foundation upon which the military can deliver preparation for, or follow-up in, the wake of disaster response. Method: Because expert perspectives on military disaster response is lacking, a qualitative research design is required, with phenomenology the method of choice. A minimum of 12 face-to-face, individual interviews will be conducted, beginning with the open-ended question, "When you think of your disaster deployment(s), what stands out for you?" Interviews will be digitally recorded and transcribed. The principal investigator will use "snowball" sampling in which participants will refer others who meet criteria. Research flyers will also be emailed via military nurse research consultants, and placed in local reserve and National Guard units. Data Analysis: Line by line analysis will be performed seeking themes which reflect the experience of responding to a disaster. The final thematic structure of the experience will form a basis for delivering disaster preparation to military nurses, and providing emotional and physical support during and after deployment. Significance: The research will begin to fill a gap that exists in knowledge of how disaster response affects the military's own nurses. Information garnered from the participants' experiences could be incorporated into planning for future disaster preparation, and in the delivery of care to military nurses during their deployment and after their return.During disaster, the safety of entire communities may be dependent on the quality of care provided by first responders. Often these first caregivers are military nurses, who give care under dire conditions. If these nurses are adequately prepared, and supported under stress, they can continue to give high quality care, saving lives and avoiding overwhelming stress that could diminish their capacity to continue to serve.


Final Report is available on NTRL at: