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Impact of a community disaster awareness training program in Turkey: Does it influence hazard-related cognitions and preparedness behaviors

Karancı, Ayşe Nuray
Aksit, B
Dirik, G
A community disaster training program focusing on earthquakes, floods and landslides was implemented in Cankiri, Turkey, in 2002. It covered mitigation, preparedness and response aspects of natural disaster management. Four thousand community members participated in the training program delivered by 95 local trainers. This study evaluated the impact of participation in this program. One year later, 400 randomly selected participants in the training program and a comparable sample of 400 community members who did not participate in any disaster training program (nonparticipants) were surveyed. Disaster-related cognitions (i.e., disaster expectation, worry about future disasters, loss estimations if a disaster occurs, beliefs in the possibility of mitigation and preparedness) and reported preparedness behaviors were assessed. The relationship of sociodemographic, previous disaster experience, anxiety and locus of control variables with disaster-related cognitions and behaviors was examined. Results showed that participants in the training program had more disaster expectation, worry and loss estimation and more preparedness behaviors. Results of regression analyses, examining the relationship of the variables of the study with disaster cognitions, affect and actual preparedness behaviors showed that gender, education, being a participant in the training program, anxiety and locus of control are important variables related to different kinds of disaster-related cognitions. However, reported preparedness behaviors were quite low and this result needs to be viewed with caution. These results have important implications for the modification of programs for targeting sustainable behavioral change, which is likely to reduce the impact of future disasters.