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Special Issue "Future Challenges in Emergency Response and Public Health in Compound Disasters"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 January 2022) | Viewed by 14611

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Koichi Tanigawa
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Futaba Medical Center, Fukushima Prefecture, Fukushima 960-8670, Japan
Interests: emergency medicine; disaster management; radiological and nuclear emergency

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Fukushima nuclear accident. The Fukushima nuclear accident, which was the first compound nuclear disaster in human history, highlighted important health issues related to the accident. Over the last several decades, the world has been hit by natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, huge typhoons/hurricanes and floods, some of which have not been experienced in modern history. Furthermore, in 2019, a global pandemic of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, occurred, which has had not only a great impact on hundreds of millions of people`s health, but also made it more difficult to respond when compounded by a natural disaster. I believe it is time to look back on how we have responded to evolving disasters, and what challenges and solutions we have for the future. In this Special Issue, we are focusing on risk communication, mental health, and public health during technological disasters or disasters in pandemics. All medical and public health professionals must be prepared to respond to these disaster situations. We would like to solicit quality articles to this Special Issue which, we hope, will help us to better prepare for a future disaster.

Prof. Dr. Koichi Tanigawa
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2500 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • risk communication
  • psychological care
  • public health
  • pandemic
  • technological disaster
  • compound disaster

Published Papers (13 papers)

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Research

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Article
Responsiveness and Adaptability of Healthcare Facilities in Emergency Scenarios: COVID-19 Experience
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(2), 675; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19020675 - 07 Jan 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 937
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic revealed many vulnerabilities of the contemporary built environment along with limited preparedness and low efficiency in mitigating unexpected and unprecedented challenges. This article discusses the efficiency and responsiveness of basic hospital spatial layouts in three different scenarios: normal operation; the [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic revealed many vulnerabilities of the contemporary built environment along with limited preparedness and low efficiency in mitigating unexpected and unprecedented challenges. This article discusses the efficiency and responsiveness of basic hospital spatial layouts in three different scenarios: normal operation; the segregation of a large number of patients and still providing them with access to emergency healthcare, typical for a pandemic; and a sudden, extremely high number of admissions typical for compound disasters and terrorist attacks. A set of parameters and a method for general adaptability assessment (GAAT) that can be used as a tool in decision-making processes as well as evaluation of both existing facilities and the new models for resilient hospitals resulting from the experience of the pandemic are proposed. The paper emphasizes why factors among which adaptability, convertibility, and scalability should be at the very core of hospital development and management strategies. It also discusses new models of adaptable healthcare facilities that enable day-to-day operations to continue alongside a pandemic, and other emergency scenarios. Full article
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Article
Evaluation of Residents’ Timing of Return to or New Settlement in Kawauchi Village, at 10 Years after the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Accident
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(1), 543; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19010543 - 04 Jan 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 569
Abstract
Kawauchi village in Fukushima prefecture was affected by the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP) accident, and residents had to evacuate from their hometown in 2011. This study clarified the timing and related factors with regard to residents returning to or newly settling [...] Read more.
Kawauchi village in Fukushima prefecture was affected by the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP) accident, and residents had to evacuate from their hometown in 2011. This study clarified the timing and related factors with regard to residents returning to or newly settling in Kawauchi. A survey was conducted using a questionnaire, from February to March 2021, with assistance from the Kawauchi village office and post office. Of the 374 residents, 170 (45.5%) had returned to or newly settled in Kawauchi within the past 2 years (group 1), 84 (22.5%) in the past 2–5 years (group 2), and 99 (26.5%) after more than 5 years (group 3) following the evacuation order. An additional 21 residents (5.5%) who had lived in Kawauchi at the time of the FDNPP had not yet returned (group 4). Compared with the other groups, residents in group 1 were more satisfied with their current lives and were coping better with stress. Even though they had experienced a serious nuclear disaster, residents of Kawauchi village who returned to their hometown in the early phase had a high sense of satisfaction with their current life one decade after the FDNPP accident. Full article
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Article
The Association between Parenting Confidence and Later Child Mental Health in the Area Affected by the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster: The Fukushima Health Management Survey
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(1), 476; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19010476 - 02 Jan 2022
Viewed by 837
Abstract
After the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station accident, the Fukushima Health Management Survey was conducted to assess children’s lifestyle and mental health conditions. The participants in this study were 1126 children, aged 0 to 3 years, living in the evacuation zone at [...] Read more.
After the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station accident, the Fukushima Health Management Survey was conducted to assess children’s lifestyle and mental health conditions. The participants in this study were 1126 children, aged 0 to 3 years, living in the evacuation zone at the time of the disaster. The parenting confidence of their mothers was assessed using a self-administered questionnaire as a baseline in 2013. We examined the association of parenting confidence level at baseline, using a total difficulty score of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) and reluctance to attend school among children in a follow-up study in 2016 and 2017. As a result, no confidence was reported by 178 (15.8%) mothers, while 477 (42.4%) responded with “not sure” and 471 (41.8%) were confident. In the multiple logistic analysis, after adjusting for covariates such as the child’s sex, age, and current health condition, the group lacking parenting confidence demonstrated a significantly higher risk level for SDQ total difficulties (OR, 2.8; 95% CI, 1.59–4.93) and reluctance to attend school (OR = 1.98, 95% CI: 1.24–3.18) than the confident mothers. After a major disaster, which can have long-term effects on communities, intensive psychological care for mothers with young children is needed to prevent various mental health problems in their children. Full article
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Article
Health and Medical Issues in the Area Affected by Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Accident
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(1), 144; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19010144 - 23 Dec 2021
Viewed by 1089
Abstract
Futaba County was the area most affected by the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident. To understand issues around the re-development of the medical system, we investigated the post-accident changes in medical needs and the system’s transition. We analyzed reports from Fukushima [...] Read more.
Futaba County was the area most affected by the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident. To understand issues around the re-development of the medical system, we investigated the post-accident changes in medical needs and the system’s transition. We analyzed reports from Fukushima Prefecture and local municipalities, ambulance transport data from the Futaba Fire Department, and patient data from Futaba Medical Center (FMC). After the accident, all medical institutions were closed, and the number of ambulance use dropped sharply. With the lifting of evacuation orders beginning in 2014, the amount of ambulance use increased at an annual rate of about 10%. Early on, the proportion of trauma caused by occupational and traffic accidents increased rapidly to more than 30%. As residents returned, the proportion related to endogenous diseases (most commonly respiratory) increased. Soon after the FMC opened in 2018, the majority of the patients were in their 60s, and by 2019 the proportion of patients in their 80s markedly increased. The return of the residents as well as ongoing decontamination and reconstruction projects were related to changes in the demographics of patients and the types of injuries and illnesses observed. Full article
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Article
Influencing Factors of Public Satisfaction with COVID-19 Prevention Services Based on Structural Equation Modeling (SEM): A Study of Nanjing, China
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(24), 13281; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182413281 - 16 Dec 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1141
Abstract
Service satisfaction with public policies is an important component of public service quality management, which is of great significance to the improvement of public service quality. Based on an online questionnaire survey and in combination with the characteristics of public policies and services, [...] Read more.
Service satisfaction with public policies is an important component of public service quality management, which is of great significance to the improvement of public service quality. Based on an online questionnaire survey and in combination with the characteristics of public policies and services, in this study the influencing factors of residents’ satisfaction with COVID-19 pandemic prevention services were analyzed with structural equation modeling. The results reveal that the data fit the model well, and all the hypotheses formulated in this study were supported. Among the factors that were found to directly affect residents’ satisfaction with pandemic prevention services, perceived quality (PQ) has the greatest impact on satisfaction, followed by the disaster situation (DS) and policy expectation (PE). The observed variables that have significant impacts on the latent variables were also explored. Regarding the main findings, the residents who were seriously affected by the pandemic tended to have lower satisfaction with the policies and services provided by the government. Moreover, the improvement of PQ was found to significantly increase pandemic prevention service satisfaction (SS). Finally, the residents with a good psychological status during the pandemic were found to have higher satisfaction. According to the results, implications for the prevention and control practices of similar public health emergencies are proposed. Full article
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Article
Risk Perception of Health Risks Associated with Radiation Exposure among Residents of Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(24), 13208; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182413208 - 15 Dec 2021
Viewed by 645
Abstract
Ten years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake and the subsequent Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident on 11 March 2011. Okuma is a town hosting the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The evacuation order for Okuma was partially lifted in [...] Read more.
Ten years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake and the subsequent Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident on 11 March 2011. Okuma is a town hosting the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The evacuation order for Okuma was partially lifted in April 2019. To clarify factors associated with risk perceptions of radiation among the residents of Okuma, we conducted a questionnaire survey in January 2021. Our results revealed that resident anxieties regarding the health effects of radiation exposure from living in Okuma were independently associated with positive PCL-Specific score, recognition of the consultation services with radiation experts in the municipal government of Okuma, and planned request for consultation service regarding radiation exposure by radiation experts, along with being female and living with a child. It is important for radiation experts to promote periodic communication of risks with individuals on a small scale to provide accurate information about the health effects of radiation and to provide maternal and child healthcare services and support regarding child-rearing and radiation exposure, to reduce concerns about radiation exposure and facilitate healthy living and wellbeing in Okuma. Full article
Article
Tailoring Digital Tools to Address the Radiation and Health Information Needs of Returnees after a Nuclear Accident
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(23), 12704; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182312704 - 02 Dec 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 799
Abstract
Digital tools are increasingly used for health promotion, but their utility during recovery from a nuclear disaster has yet to be established. This study analysed differences in knowledge, attitude, and practice (KAP) toward digital tools for radiation protection and health promotion, and preferences [...] Read more.
Digital tools are increasingly used for health promotion, but their utility during recovery from a nuclear disaster has yet to be established. This study analysed differences in knowledge, attitude, and practice (KAP) toward digital tools for radiation protection and health promotion, and preferences for specific application functions, among cohorts living within and outside areas affected by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station (FDNPS) accident. A needs assessment was conducted by internet survey, and responses from those affected (N = 86) and not affected (N = 253) were compared and quantified by an adjusted odds ratio (aOR), using logistic regression analyses. KAP toward the radiation-related application in the affected group had an aOR of 1.95 (95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.12–3.38) for knowledge, and 5.71 (CI = 2.55–12.8) for practice. Conversely, toward the health-related application, the aOR of the affected group was 0.50 (CI = 0.29–0.86). The preference in the affected group was significantly lower for two application functions related to radiation measurement and two health-related functions (one about the effects of radiation in general and another about personal health advice in general): aOR range 0.43–0.50. Development of specific applications incorporating the findings from this survey was intended to foster a locally appropriate eHealth environment during recovery from the FDNPS accident. Full article
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Article
User-Guided Design of a Digital Tool for Health Promotion and Radiation Protection: Results from an Internet Needs Survey
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(22), 12007; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182212007 - 16 Nov 2021
Viewed by 821
Abstract
Background: Digital tools can be powerful and effective in connecting people with life-saving and health-promoting support when facing a health crisis. To develop a digital application for radiation protection and health promotion for evacuees returning home after the Fukushima nuclear accident, we conducted [...] Read more.
Background: Digital tools can be powerful and effective in connecting people with life-saving and health-promoting support when facing a health crisis. To develop a digital application for radiation protection and health promotion for evacuees returning home after the Fukushima nuclear accident, we conducted a needs assessment survey and explored the association of people’s eHealth literacy (eHL) level with their digital tool knowledge, attitudes, and practice (KAP). Methods: From 339 responses to an online survey, data from 264 lay persons were analyzed. The KAP items were those used in a prior EU project, and eHL levels were assessed with a Japanese version of the eHealth Literacy Scale. Results: Multivariable analyses showed significant associations between eHL and the digital tool KAP for radiation protection (knowledge: adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 1.10; attitude: 1.06; practice: 1.10) and for health promotion (knowledge: aOR = 1.13; attitude: 1.06; practice: 1.16). Conclusions: People with a higher eHL had a more positive KAP. For those with a lower eHL, we are formulating easy-to-understand explanations to promote the utilization of the digital tool and enthusiasm for future community-oriented digital tools. Full article
Article
Association of Instrumental Activities of Daily Living, Physical Function, and Mental Health among Older Returnees after the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station Accident
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(21), 11639; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182111639 - 05 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 910
Abstract
The 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and consequent Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station accident caused a large-scale evacuation, generating various health issues. Although residents gradually returned, their independence of daily living and associated factors remain unknown. This study examines the hypothesis that physical [...] Read more.
The 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and consequent Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station accident caused a large-scale evacuation, generating various health issues. Although residents gradually returned, their independence of daily living and associated factors remain unknown. This study examines the hypothesis that physical and mental status are associated with the instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) of older returnees (65 years and above) after the disaster. Older returnees to Kawauchi Village, Fukushima Prefecture, located 20–30 km southwest of the power plants, were recruited. IADL was assessed using the Japan Science and Technology Agency Index of Competence, physical function via the 30-s chair stand test, and mental health via the Japanese version of the World Health Organization Five Well-Being Index. To examine the association of IADL and possible factors, a t-test or Pearson’s product-moment correlation coefficient was used, stratified by sex. The data of 29 participants (75.5 ± 7.4 years, 19 female) were analyzed. Physical function was associated with IADL in females. Mental health was associated with IADL in males and females. Taking measures to strengthen physical function in females, as well as to improve mental health in both sexes, for enhancing IADL ability could be beneficial. Full article
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Article
Increasing Disaster Medical Assistance Teams’ Intent to Engage with Specific Hazards
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(21), 11630; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182111630 - 05 Nov 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 788
Abstract
To ensure human resource availability for a smooth response during various types of disasters, there is a need to improve the intent of those involved in responding to each hazard type. However, Disaster Medical Assistance Team personnel’s intent to engage with specific hazards [...] Read more.
To ensure human resource availability for a smooth response during various types of disasters, there is a need to improve the intent of those involved in responding to each hazard type. However, Disaster Medical Assistance Team personnel’s intent to engage with specific hazards has yet to be clarified. This study therefore aimed to clarify the factors affecting Disaster Medical Assistance Team members’ (n = 178) intent to engage with each type of hazard through an anonymous web questionnaire survey containing 20 questions. Our results show that the intent to engage in disaster response activities was significantly lower for chemical (50), biological (47), radiological/nuclear (58), and explosive (52) incidents compared with natural (82) and man-made hazards (82) (p < 0.01). Multiple regression analysis showed that incentives were the most common factor affecting responders’ intent to engage with all hazard types, followed by self-confidence. Thus, creating a system that provides generous incentives could effectively improve disaster responders’ intent to engage with specific hazards. Another approach could be education and training to increase disaster responders’ confidence. We believe that the successful implementation of these measures would improve the intent of responders to engage with hazards and promote the recruitment of sufficient human resources. Full article
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Article
Prevention and Control of COVID-19 in Imperfect Condition: Practical Guidelines for Nursing Homes by Japan Environment and Health Safety Organization (JEHSO)
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(19), 10188; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph181910188 - 28 Sep 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1095
Abstract
Infection control at nursing homes is a top priority to address the COVID-19 pandemic because people who are the most vulnerable to the pathogen live in close contact. Currently, control measures specifically for nursing homes often ignore under-resourced condition of the facilities. To [...] Read more.
Infection control at nursing homes is a top priority to address the COVID-19 pandemic because people who are the most vulnerable to the pathogen live in close contact. Currently, control measures specifically for nursing homes often ignore under-resourced condition of the facilities. To make guidelines assuming realistic conditions, an expert meeting with 16 members established the key challenges in nursing homes, the basics of infection control, and the major transmission routes. A list of existing guidance was compiled and each item in the list was peer-reviewed by eight experts considering three aspects: significance, scientific validity, and feasibility. Factors related to the nursing home environment, the nature of SARS-CoV-2 transmission, and patient characteristics were identified as the causes of difficulties in infection control at nursing homes. To develop realistic prevention measures in under-resourced condition such as nursing homes, we may need to accept there are no perfect control measures that can achieve zero risk. Instead, the guidelines are based on the concept of deep defense, and practical checklists with 75 items were established. The evaluation of nursing homes by independent organizations using the checklists would be helpful to achieve sustainable infection control. Full article
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Article
Traditional Gender Differences Create Gaps in the Effect of COVID-19 on Psychological Distress of Japanese Workers
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(16), 8656; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18168656 - 16 Aug 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1678
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused Japanese workers psychological distress through crises of health, economics, and social relationships. To assess whether these effects are amplified by the gender bias that exists in Japan, we examined male and female worker’s psychological distress and difficulties during [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused Japanese workers psychological distress through crises of health, economics, and social relationships. To assess whether these effects are amplified by the gender bias that exists in Japan, we examined male and female worker’s psychological distress and difficulties during the pandemic. An online “COVID-19-related difficulties” questionnaire, based on item response theory, gathered responses from 3464 workers in October and November 2020. The workers’ psychological distress was found concerned to be significantly worse than before the pandemic. Basic stressors related to infection anxiety, economic anxiety, and restrictions on social interactions and outings. Men’s and women’s experiences of difficulties were consistent with traditional gender roles in Japan: men were more likely to face job-related stressors, such as economic insecurity and work-style changes; women were more likely to face non-job-related stressors, such as increased living costs and reduced social interactions. Policymakers and employers should consider the association between gender differences and industry types, and implement measures to strengthen the acceptability of mental health care. Full article
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Review

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Review
Mental Health Consequences of the Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima Nuclear Disasters: A Scoping Review
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(14), 7478; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18147478 - 13 Jul 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1987
Abstract
Many individuals who were affected by the Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami and the subsequent Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident continue to face a challenging recovery. We reviewed the long-term mental health consequences of three major nuclear power plant accidents: the [...] Read more.
Many individuals who were affected by the Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami and the subsequent Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident continue to face a challenging recovery. We reviewed the long-term mental health consequences of three major nuclear power plant accidents: the Three Mile Island (TMI, 1979), Chernobyl (1986), and Fukushima (2011) nuclear disasters. We examined the relevant prospective cohort studies and before-and-after studies that covered more than two timepoints, searching four databases (PubMed, Ichushi, PsyArticles, and PTSDPub). We identified a total of 35 studies: TMI, n = 11; Chernobyl, n = 6; and Fukushima, n = 18. The smaller numbers of early-phase studies (within 6 months) of the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters may also indicate the chaotic situation at those timepoints, as large-scale interviews were conducted in the early phase after the TMI disaster. Although the patterns of effects on mental health outcomes were diverse, more than half of the participants in the studies we evaluated were categorized into low or under-threshold symptom groups in all three disasters. Across the three disasters, the radiation exposure level estimated by the proximity and stigma were the common risk factors for mental health outcomes. Our findings will contribute to a comprehensive understanding of the impact of the worst nuclear accidents in history on the affected individuals’ mental health, and our results illustrate the longitudinal consequences of such disasters. Full article
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