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Rehabilitation of vulnerable groups in emergencies and disasters: A systematic review

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Hojjat Sheikhbardsiri1, Mohammad H. Yarmohammadian2, Fatemeh Rezaei2, Mohammad Reza Maracy3


1 Department of Emergency Operation Center (EOC), Disasters and Emergencies Management Center, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran


2 Health Management and Economics Research Center, Faculty of Management and Medical Informatics, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran


3 Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran


Corresponding Author: Mohammad Reza Maracy, Email: mrmaracy@yahoo.co.uk


© 2017 World Journal of Emergency Medicine


DOI: 10.5847/wjem.j.1920–8642.2017.04.002


BACKGROUND: Natural and man-made disasters, especially those occurring in large scales not only result in human mortality, but also cause physical, psychological, and social disabilities. Providing effective rehabilitation services in time can decrease the frequency of such disabilities. The aim of the current study was to perform a systematic review related to rehabilitation of vulnerable groups in emergencies and disasters.

METHODS: The systematic review was conducted according to the preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. The key words "recovery", "rehabilitation", "reconstruction", "transformation", "transition", "emergency", "disaster", "crisis", "hazard", "catastrophe", "tragedy", "mass casualty incident", "women", "female", "children", "pediatric", "disable", "handicap", "elder", "old" and "vulnerable" were used in combination with Boolean operators OR and AND. ISI Web of Science, PubMed, Scopus, Science Direct, Ovid, ProQuest, Wiley, Google Scholar were searched.

RESULTS: In this study a total of 11 928 articles were considered and 25 articles were selected for final review of rehabilitation of vulnerable groups based on the objective of this study. Twenty-five studies including six qualitative, sixteen cross-sectional and three randomized controlled trials were reviewed for rehabilitation of vulnerable groups in emergencies and disasters. Out of the selected papers, 23 were studied based on rehabilitation after natural disasters and the remaining were man-made disasters. Most types of rehabilitation were physical, social, psychological and economic.

CONCLUSION: The review of the papers showed different programs of physical, physiological, economic and social rehabilitations for vulnerable groups after emergencies and disasters. It may help health field managers better implement standard rehabilitation activities for vulnerable groups.

(World J Emerg Med 2017;8(4):253–263)


KEY WORDS: Rehabilitation; Vulnerable group; Emergencies; Disasters

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