What does it mean to psychologically prepare for a disaster? A systematic review

Jessica L. Boylan, Carmen Lawrence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Web of Science)


In Australia and many other bushfire prone countries, at-risk residents are encouraged to physically and psychological prepare for bushfires to reduce their impact. To date, the primary focus of research has been on understanding and improving physical preparedness, while there has been less attention to psychological preparedness, particularly in the bushfire context. This systematic review aimed to identify the current definitions and measurements of psychological preparedness to gain a better understanding of its meaning and the quality of research measures. An electronic literature search was conducted using six databases (ScienceDirect, ProQuest, JSTOR, SCOPUS, Web of Science, and Google Scholar) and 20 emergency services and fire agency websites. A total of 27 articles met the inclusion criteria for review, finding 27 definitions and seven measurement tools. Of the 27 definitions, only two were clear and systematically developed. Of the seven measurement tools identified, only two were judged to be psychometrically sound, however none had been widely used. The review suggests that psychological preparedness is still an under-researched area, and detailed inspection of the research would suggest there is still a long way to go to eliminate the ambiguity surrounding the psychological preparedness construct. This ambiguity is centred in the lack of construct clarity and the lack of measurement theory and psychometric assessment in the development of instruments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101480
JournalInternational Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020


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