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Information Practices of Disaster Response Professionals: The Preparedness Phase

Folb, Barbara L (2010) Information Practices of Disaster Response Professionals: The Preparedness Phase. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Objectives: This study describes the information practices of the various professions such as emergency management, public health, health and medicine, and public safety, involved in regional disaster preparedness groups. A thorough understanding of the similarities and differences between the professions in information seeking, use, and sharing, will further the development of high-quality information sources and information-sharing channels acceptable to all professions on the team. Methods: A qualitative descriptive study was undertaken. Twelve participants in the Pennsylvania Preparedness Leadership Institute (PPLI), a multi-disciplinary training program attended by members of the Pennsylvania Regional Task Forces, were recruited interviewed. Open-ended individual interviews were conducted at PPLI trainings and in participant workplaces. Interviews focused on information practice in the workplace, including preferences for information seeking and sharing, and barriers and facilitators to information access in the workplace. Analysis used Taylor's Information Use Environments model as an organizing framework. Findings: As Taylor's model states, information practice is shaped by the educational and training requirements for entry into each profession. Factors not included by Taylor but important to this study include volunteer experience in related fields, and overlap between personal and professional information practice on the Internet. Participants report heavy use of the Internet and email, but not of Web 2.0 social media. They value face-to-face meetings for building the social networks critical to disaster response. Only public health and medical professionals use peer-reviewed literature. All would like tools to filter incoming information, and more access to the "lessons learned" reports of other agencies engaged in similar work. Conclusions: There are differences between professions in information practice, but also commonalities that can be exploited to further information use in preparedness. Librarians can make a significant contribution to preparedness efforts by incorporating these findings into the design of information services and resources for disaster professionals. Public health significance: Improving information gathering and sharing practices for all disciplines on the disaster planning team is critical to reducing the impact of man-made and natural disasters on the health of the general public.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Folb, Barbara Lfolb@pitt.eduFOLB
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairTrauth, Jeanettetrauth@pitt.eduTRAUTH
Committee MemberDetlefsen, Ellenellen@mail.sis.pitt.eduELLEN
Committee MemberQuinn, Sandrasquinn@pitt.eduSQUINN
Committee MemberBarron, Geraldgbarron@pitt.eduGBARRON
Date: 28 June 2010
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 1 April 2010
Approval Date: 28 June 2010
Submission Date: 11 April 2010
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Behavioral and Community Health Sciences
Degree: MPH - Master of Public Health
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: disaster preparedness; information behavior; information needs seeking and use; information practice; library science
Other ID:, etd-04112010-220003
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:35
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:39


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