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From the SelectedWorks of Nuray Ayse Karanci

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January 2005
IMPACT OF A COMMUNITY DISASTER
AWARENESS
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IMPACT OF A COMMUNITY DISASTER AWARENESS
TRAINING PROGRAM IN TURKEY: DOES IT INFLUENCE
HAZARD-RELATED COGNITIONS AND PREPAREDNESS
BEHAVIORS
A. NURAY KARANCI, BAHATTIN AKSIT AND GULAY DIRIK
Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey
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.
The importance of the participation of the local community for the execution
of successful disaster mitigation and preparedness measures has been repeatedly
SOCIAL BEHAVIOR AND PERSONALITY, 2005, 33(3), 243-258
Society for Personality Research (Inc.)
243
Dr. A. Nuray Karanci, Bahattin Aksit and Gulay Dirik, Departments of Psychology and Sociology,
Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey.
Appreciation is due to anonymous reviewers.
Key words: disaster awareness, community training, preparedness behavior.
Please address correspondence and reprint requests to: Dr. A. Nuray Karanci, Middle East Technical
University, Department of Psychology, 06531, Ankara, Turkey. Phone: 90 312 210 3127; Fax: 90 312
210 1288; Email: <karanci@metu.edu.tr>



stressed (Karanci & Aksit, 2000; Perry & Lindell, 2003). Increasing hazard and
risk awareness and strengthening beliefs in the possibility of taking mitigation
and preparedness measures can be an initial stage in motivating community
members for the development and the application of appropriate preparedness
behaviors (Lopez-Vazquez & Marvan, 2003; Mulilis, Duval, & Lippa, 1990;
Mulilis & Duval, 1997). Numerous methods of community training, varying
from simple booklets about hazards to workshops, seminars and applied training
courses in disaster mitigation and preparedness have been utilized (Asgary &
Willis, 1997; Bowen & Faison, 2002). However, evaluation of the effects of such
programs in increasing community resilience is scarce and has produced mixed
results (Bowen & Faison, 2002; Morrissey & Reser, 2003; Ronan & Johnston,
2003). It is necessary to evaluate the impact of such training programs by
assessing the cognitive and behavioral changes that follow them in order to
develop guidelines for increasing their impact and to find methods that will
facilitate cognitive and, more importantly, behavioral change and thereby elicit
preparedness behaviors.
The aim of the present study was to examine the impact of participating in a
basic disaster awareness training program for earthquakes, landslides and floods
on cognitive and behavioral measures related to disaster mitigation and
preparedness. More specifically, the effects of such a training program on
disaster-related cognitions (i.e., expectations and worry about future disasters,
loss estimation, beliefs in mitigation and preparedness) and preparedness
behaviors were examined one year after the training program. The differences
between the participants of the training program and a control group of nonpar-
ticipants were examined in order to understand the impact of the training.
Furthermore, we examined the predictors of disaster-related cognitions and
preparedness behaviors.
The literature on persuasive communication proposes that when individuals are
persuaded that they are at risk of confronting events that will threaten their well-
being they will engage in adaptive behaviors (Duval & Mulilis, 1999; Janis,
1967). Thus, according to this view, if individuals perceive a risk of disasters and
believe that their well-being will be threatened then they are likely to engage in
mitigation or preparedness behaviors. However, contrary to this view, previous
experience with disasters has not been found to be a good predictor of
preparedness behaviors (Rincon, Linares, & Greenberg, 2001; Rstemli &
Karanci, 1999). Therefore, simply being aware of risks does not seem to be a
strong factor for the initiation of responsible adaptive behaviors. The person-
relative-to-event (PrE) model can be used to modify the persuasive
communication viewpoint (Duval & Mulilis, 1999). According to the PrE model,
adaptive behavior is related to two kinds of appraisals. The first one is related to
the evaluation of the event and the second one is about the evaluation of personal
DISASTER AWARENESS IN TURKEY
244
resources. The model proposes that when the appraised severity and probability
of the event exceed the appraised personal-coping resources adaptive behavior is
not likely to follow. However, when the person assesses his/her own resources as
sufficient relative to the perceived threat entailed in the event then adaptive
behavior will follow. Thus, in disaster awareness programs it seems important to
highlight and develop an awareness of risks involved in disaster events and also
to empower the person with relevant skills to cope with the event, so that the
person evaluates his/her resources relative to the dangers posed by the event as
sufficient to deal with the threat. Duval and Mulilis found that earthquake
preparedness behaviors increased for persons who evaluated their resources as
high in comparison to the magnitude of their threat perceptions, supporting the
PrE model. Furthermore, perceptions of responsibility for the mitigation of
hazards have been found to have a moderating effect for adaptive behavior when
personal resources are viewed as sufficient (Mulilis & Duval, 1997). Within the
framework of this model, two dimensions need to be stressed in community
disaster training programs. The first one is to provide information on threat so
that threat perception due to possible future disasters is raised. The second area
is to increase the personal resources of the participants in dealing with the threat,
so that the individual feels capable of dealing with a possible future disaster
event. Lastly, training programs need to give community members a sense of
responsibility for mitigation and preparedness. Previous research in Turkey
showed that although earthquake survivors believe in the general possibility of
mitigation and preparedness, they believe that they themselves have fewer
resources as compared to the state institutions for taking such actions.
Furthermore, they attribute responsibility for mitigation and preparedness to
external sources, such as the state, municipality, engineers, and so on (Karanci &
Aksit, 1999; Karanci & Aksit, 2000).
Research on predictors of preparedness behavior for disasters showed that age,
income, education, locus of control, beliefs in control, perceived threat and
distress were significant predictors of preparedness behaviors for hurricanes and
earthquakes (Kasapoglu & Ecevit, 2003; Rincon, Linares, & Greenberg, 2001;
Rstemli & Karanci, 1999). Rstemli and Karanci found that anxiety about
future earthquakes and perceived control were significant predictors of
preparedness behaviors among the survivors of the Erzincan, Turkey earthquake.
Kasapoglu and Ecevit reported that education, employment, social security and
knowledge were important predictors of preparedness for future earthquakes
among the survivors of the 1999 Marmara earthquake. Thus, these findings seem
to lend partial support to the PrE model, by showing that being aware of threat
and having personal resources such as income, education, belief in personal
control and knowledge about disasters are important factors for facilitating
preparedness behaviors.
DISASTER AWARENESS IN TURKEY
245
METHOD
BACKGROUND TO THE CURRENT STUDY
The study site
This study is the follow-up phase of an applied field study, conducted in
Cankiri, a province with a population of 250,000, located in central Turkey.
Cankiri was hit by an earthquake of magnitude 5.9 on the Richter scale in June
2000, nearly ten months prior to the initiation of the disaster awareness training
program. The earthquake led to damage in nearly 3,000 buildings and caused 3
deaths. Furthermore, the study was initiated a year after the devastating 1999,
Marmara, Turkey earthquake. This earthquake severely affected five industrial
cities in Turkey and led to a death toll of 17,000 and collapse of 50,000 buildings
(Ecevit & Kasapoglu, 2002; Kasapoglu, Ecevit & Ecevit, 2004). Thus, the
community training program was initiated when there was a heightened
awareness and keen interest in disasters in Turkey.
Disaster awareness training program In the initial phase of the community
training program, a large multisectoral meeting was held in Cankiri, with the
support of the Governor, in order to stress the importance of local participation
and training in disaster management and to recruit local people who would be
trained to become voluntary local trainers. As a result of discussions with local
partners, earthquakes, floods and landslides were depicted as the most important
types of hazards for Cankiri. Individuals from the public sector, municipalities,
nongovernmental organizations and professional chambers were asked to
volunteer to become local trainers, to be trained by central trainers. It was
stressed that subsequently they would be asked to deliver the training program to
adult community members.
Based on the information given above on the probability of high risk disasters
in the province of Cankiri, the training of trainers handbook for earthquakes used
previously in another community participation study (Karanci & Aksit, 1999)
was revised and expanded to include floods and landslides. A booklet to be
distributed to adult community members who would participate in the awareness
program was also similarly revised. The handbook contained information on
preparedness and mitigation measures. It clearly specified the method of
conducting the training and emphasized activities to get the active involvement
of participants. The handbook also contained sections with in-depth information
for the trainer. There was also a ten-page simple brochure to be given to
community members during the eight hours training. The content of the
handbook and the brochure was based on previous similar publications (e.g.,
Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA]).
An eight hours training of trainers program was given to 117 potential local
trainers by the present authors. Out of the 117 potential local trainers who
DISASTER AWARENESS IN TURKEY
246





DISASTER AWARENESS IN TURKEY
247
participated in the training of trainers program, 95 agreed to be local trainers. A
contract was signed with these local trainers, based on a requirement to train at
least 50 adults from the community by the end of March 2002. Thus, a total of
4,750 adults from the community were targeted. They were each given a training
of trainers handbook, 50 brochures to be distributed to community members
participating in their training groups and 50 questionnaires outlining some
dimensions of disaster experience and mitigation and preparedness beliefs of
those who would attend their groups. They were asked to distribute these surveys
at the end of their training groups and then to collect and return them to the
project coordinators. The project researchers required the trainers to give out
questionnaires in order to provide some control over the local trainers. These
surveys asked for consent for future contact in an evaluation study and requested
consenting participants to give their contact phone numbers and addresses so that
they could be contacted in the future. A total of 4000 community members
participated in the training program and they all gave their consent for future
contact (Aksit, Karanci, & Anafarta, 2002).
One year after the completion of the program 400 individuals were randomly
selected from the questionnaires completed and contacted for the present study.
THE SAMPLE
The sample consisted of 800 adults (female = 202, male = 598) living in
Cankiri. Half of the sample was drawn randomly from among the 4,000
participants of the disaster awareness training program (participants), while the
other half were 400 adults, randomly chosen from among individuals living in
similar neighborhoods, but not exposed to a disaster awareness training program,
forming a control group (nonparticipants). Ninety percent of the sample was
employed, 48% owned the house they were living in and 53.6% had had a
previous natural disaster experience. Table 1 shows the characteristics of the
participant and nonparticipant samples. As can be seen, those who had
participated in training were slightly older and had less education. Apart from
these differences, the two groups were comparable.
RESEARCH INSTRUMENTS
The first part of the instrument identified sociodemographic variables (gender,
age, marital status, education, employment status, household size, house
ownership status (owner versus rental) and household property (measured as the
total number checked by the respondent from a list of 10 household appliances
or consumer items, such as refrigerator, dishwasher, television, etc.), whereas the
second part had questions on disaster experience (whether they had experienced
a disaster in their lives, if yes, its type and degree of loss from the disaster), five
questions on cognitions/emotions related to hazard awareness and mitigation

DISASTER AWARENESS IN TURKEY
248
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(How likely do you think is the probability of a disaster in Cankiri in the next
year?; How much do you worry about the occurrence of a disaster in Cankiri
over the next year?; How much loss do you expect for yourself/family if a
disaster occurs?; Do you believe that it is possible to mitigate disaster losses?;
To what extent can one be prepared for disasters?). All the items were rated on
three-point Likert scales (1= Not at all, 3= Very much) and finally one question
on preparedness behavior Have you made any preparations for future disasters?;
and if yes please list the actions that you have completed?
The following scales were given in the next section of the instrument:
Locus of Control Scale (LCS)
In the present study the 47-item LCS, developed and tested with Turkish
samples, was used (Dag, 2002). The scale uses a five-point Likert scale response
format (1= Not suitable at all; 5= Completely suitable). Dag reported the
reliability of the whole scale as .92. The possible score range is 47-235.
In the present study a total locus of control score was obtained simply by
summing up the responses to the items of the LCS (M = 118.30, SD =19.37, Min
= 60, Max = 181), higher scores reflecting external locus of control. Cronbach
alpha reliability was .86 for the present study.
Symptom Checklist-40 (SCL-40)
The SCL-40 provides a measure of general distress (Derogatis & Cleary,
1977). The scale was previously translated and used with survivors of three
separate earthquakes in Turkey (Karanci & Rstemli, 1995; Karanci, Alcan,
Aksit, Sucuoglu, & Balta, 1999). The items tap somatic symptoms, anxiety,
depression and anger/irritability. Respondents were asked to report which of the
40 symptoms they had experienced within the past two weeks and to rate each
item/symptom by considering the degree of distress it caused on a three-point
scale (1= not at all, 2= somewhat and 3= a lot) during the past two weeks.
For the present study a varimax orthogonal factor analysis was conducted for
the SCL-40, which revealed 7 factors, explaining 51 % of the variance. Since
previous research showed that Anxiety is the only factor that is related to
preparedness (Rstemli & Karanci, 1999), only the factor reflecting anxiety was
used in the present study for predicting disaster-related cognitions and
preparedness behaviors. This factor had 10 items and had an adequate Cronbach
Alpha reliability value (.78). Anxiety scores were obtained by simply summing
up the responses to the 10 items of the anxiety factor of the SCL-40, (M = 13.74,
SD = 3.23, Min =10, Max = 29).
PROCEDURE
Four hundred participants were randomly selected from the 4,000 participants
who took part in the awareness training program. Their addresses and names
were noted. The 400 adults for the control group (nonparticipants) were selected
DISASTER AWARENESS IN TURKEY
249


randomly either from households located on the same street, or from among
individuals working in the same workplace. Trained interviewers administered
the questionnaires one year after the completion of the training program, in either
the homes or workplaces of the respondents. The administration took about 30
minutes. All of the individuals contacted agreed to participate in the study. Since
20 adults from the original training sample could not be contacted, the
researchers drew an additional 20 individuals from the list of participants.
RESULTS
HAZARD-RELATED COGNITIONS AND PREPAREDNESS BEHAVIOR OF THE
PARTICIPANTS AND NONPARTICIPANTS IN AWARENESS TRAINING
Preparedness behavior was calculated by first making a categorization of
possible preparedness behaviors, based on a screening of the replies to What
have you done for preparedness. The categories were; 1. Keeping supplies
(food, medicine, clothing etc.); 2. Stabilizing furniture; 3. Getting earthquake
insurance; 4. Making a family reunion plan and other plans for when disaster
occurs; 5. Structurally strengthening the building. Subsequently the replies of
each respondent were placed in appropriate categories. Since there were a lot of
items falling under the first category they were all counted as one, in order not to
inflate the number of preparedness behaviors. Thus, the possible score range was
1-5. Participants reporting preparedness behaviors were very few, with only 9.5%
reporting that they had engaged in one category of behavior, 2.5% in two and
only 1% engaging in three category behaviors.
The mean scores of disaster expectation worry about future disasters and loss
estimation and actual preparedness behaviors were significantly higher for the
participants (M = 2.45, 2.34, and 2.32; SD = .57, .61, and .56, respectively) as
compared to nonparticipants (M = 2.30, 2.17, and 2.19; SD = .59, .65, .67,
respectively) (t (798) = 3.57, 3.80, and 2.82 respectively, p < .01,two-tailed).
Although the scores of the participant group for belief in the possibility of
mitigation and preparedness (M = 2.27 and 2.21) were slightly higher in
comparison to the control group (M = 2.18 and 2.08), the difference was not
significant (t (798) = 1.86 and 3.03, p < .01). For preparedness behavior, the
mean scores were very low and although the participant group (M = .35; SD =
.67) had a significantly higher score than did the nonparticipant group (M = .18;
SD = .51) (t (798) = 4.18, p < 001, two-tailed), the scores for the groups were
generally very low.
DISASTER AWARENESS IN TURKEY
250
REGRESSION ANALYSES
In order to examine the variables that are related to disaster
cognitions/emotions and preparedness behaviors, six separate hierarchical
regression analyses were conducted.
Prior to conducting a series of regression analyses, zero order correlations
between possible independent and dependent variables (i.e., disaster expectation,
worry about future disasters, loss expectation, beliefs in mitigation and
preparedness) and number of preparedness behaviors were obtained. This
analysis revealed that the following were significantly related to dependent
variables: gender (1 = female, 2 = male), years of education, marital status (1 =
married, 2 = not married), household size (number of people living at the same
home), house ownership (0 = owner, 1 = rented); house type (0 = nonreinforced
concrete; 1= reinforced concrete), household properties (calculated by summing
up the ownership of ten listed household appliances or consumer items, such as
a refrigerator, TV, washing machine, dishwasher, radio/tape recorder, telephone
and car), participation in awareness training (1 = participated; 0 = did not
participate), anxiety (the sum of the anxiety factor items of the SCL-40), locus of
control. Although, age was not significantly correlated with any of the dependent
variables it was included in the regression analyses as a control variable.
1
In all of the six analyses, a similar set of independent variables was used and
they were entered in three blocks. In the first block, personal and residential
variables (i.e., gender, age, years of education, marital status, household size
(number of people living at the same home), house ownership status, house type,
household properties (number of consumer items) were entered. In the second
block participation in awareness training (0 = no; 1= yes) was entered. In the
third block anxiety and locus of control scores were entered. Conversely, in the
analysis for actual preparedness behaviors, disaster expectation, worry about
disasters, loss expectation, and beliefs about mitigation and preparedness were
also entered in the third block.
Table 2 presents the results of the six regression analyses.
PREDICTORS OF DISASTER EXPECTATION
The results of the hierarchical multiple regression analysis showed that the
eleven predictor variables explained 8% of the variance in disaster expectation (F
(11, 547) = 4.08, p < .001). In the final analysis, household property ( = .09, t =
2.03, p < .05), participation in awareness training (0 = no; 1 = yes) ( = .19, t =
4.35, p < .001) and anxiety ( = .14, t = 3.23, p < .001) appeared as significant
predictors of disaster expectation. Thus, having more household property,
DISASTER AWARENESS IN TURKEY
251
1
The correlation matrix can be obtained from the authors upon request.
participating in training, and being more anxious seem to be related to higher
expectations for the occurrence of future disasters.
TABLE 2
PREDICTORS OF THE COGNITIVE/EMOTIONAL VARIABLES RELATED TO DISASTERS AND
PREPAREDNESS BEHAVIOR
Step Variables Expect Worry Loss Mitigation Preparedness Prep.
behavior
I. Personal-residential
Gender (1=female; 2=male -.061 -.14
**
-.13
**
-.04 .02 .09*
Age -.02 -.04 -.02 .05 .01 .03
Education (years) .04 -.12
**
-.04 .13
**
.15
***
.15
**
Marital status
(1=married;
2= not married) -.08 -.10
*
-.12
*
-.06 -.08 -.09
Household size .00 -.03 -.06 -.10* -.09
*
-.05
House ownership
(0=owner; 1=rented) -.03 .07 .03 -.06 -.03 .10*
House type
(0=nonreinf.;
1=reinforced concrete) -.08 .01 -.03 -.05 .04 -.02
Household property .09
*
.11
*
.00 .07 .04 .01
F 2.00
*
4.38
***
2.47
**
5.93
***
6.39
***
3.48
***
R
2
.03 .06 .04 .08 .09 .05
II. Awareness training
(1=participant;
0=nonparticipant) .19
***
.16
***
.13
**
.08
*
.16
***
.15
***
F 3.77
***
5.51
***
3.12
***
5.53
***
7.15
***
4.99
***
R
2
.06 .08 .05 .08 .11 .08
III. Psychological
Anxiety .14
***
.11
**
.05 .02 .02 .05
Locus of control -.02 -.05 -.05 -.27
***
-.26
***
.03
Dis.expectation .04
Dis. worry .14
***
Loss estimation .08
Belief in mitigation .04
Belief in preparedness .02
F 4.08
***
5.23
***
2.76
**
8.78
***
9.99
***
3.97
***
R .28 .31 .23 .39 .41 .33
R
2
.08 .10 .06 .15 .17 .11
Notes:
1
Beta, standardized coefficients are given;
*
p <.05,
**
p <.01,
***
p <.001
PREDICTORS OF WORRY ABOUT FUTURE DISASTERS
The results of the hierarchical multiple regression analysis showed that the 11
predictor variables explained 10 % of the variance in worry (F (11, 551) = 5.23,
DISASTER AWARENESS IN TURKEY
252
p < .001). In the final step, gender (1 = female, 2 = male) ( = -.14, t =
-3.15, p < .01), years of education, ( = -.12, t = -2.61, p < .01), marital status (1
= married, 2 = not married) ( = -.10, t = -2.14, p < .05), household property (
= .11, t = 2.38, p < .05), participation in awareness training (1 = yes, 0 = no) (
= .16, t = 3.88, p < .001), and anxiety ( = .11, t = 2.61, p < .01) appeared as
significant predictors of worry. So, being female and being married, having lower
levels of education, having more property, participating in disaster training and
anxiety are related to worries about future disasters.
PREDICTORS OF LOSS ESTIMATION FROM FUTURE DISASTERS
All the predictors explained 6 % of the variance in loss estimation (F (11, 534)
= 2.76, p < .01). In the last step, gender ( = -.13, t = -2.72, p < .01), marital status
( = -.12, t = -2.42, p < .05), and participation in awareness training ( = .13, t =
2.95, p < .01) appeared as significant predictors of loss estimation from future
disasters. Thus, being female, being married and participation in training are
related to higher estimations of loss from future disasters.
PREDICTORS OF BELIEF IN THE POSSIBILITY OF MITIGATION
For beliefs in the possibility of mitigation the 11 predictor variables explained
15% of the variance (F (11, 554) = 8.78, p < .001). Years of education, ( = .13,
t = 2.96, p < .01), household size ( = -.10, t = -2.21, p < .05), participation in
awareness training ( = .08, t = 1.95, p < .05), and locus of control ( = -.27, t =
-6.55, p < .001) appeared as significant predictors of mitigation. So, having more
education, having a smaller household, participation in training and finally
having internal locus of control are related to beliefs in mitigation.
PREDICTORS OF BELIEFS IN PREPAREDNESS
Eleven predictors explained 17% of the variance in beliefs in preparedness (F
(11, 554) = 9.99, p < .001). Years of education, ( = .15, t = 3.29, p < .001),
household size ( = -.09, t = -2.18, p < .05), participation in awareness training
( = .16, t = 3.11, p < .001), locus of control ( = -.26, t = -6.39, p < .001)
appeared as significant predictors of beliefs in the possibility of preparedness. So,
having more education, having a smaller household, being a participant, and
finally having internal locus of control are related to beliefs in the possibility of
preparedness.
PREDICTORS OF PREPAREDNESS BEHAVIOR
In this analysis, disaster expectation, worry, and loss expectation, beliefs in
mitigation and preparedness were also entered in the third block. The 16
predictor variables explained 11% of the variance in preparedness behavior
(F (16, 527) = 3.97, p < .001). In the final step gender ( = . 09, t = 2.02, p < .05),
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years of education ( = .15, t = 3.07, p < .01), house ownership ( = .10, t =
2.13, p < .05), participation in awareness training ( = .15, t = 3.37, p < .001)
and worry about disasters ( = .14, t = 2.53, p < .01) appeared to be significant.
Thus, males, those having more education, living in a rented house, being a
participant in the disaster awareness training program, and worry about future
disasters appeared important for actual preparedness behaviors.
DISCUSSION
This study aimed to assess the impact of a disaster awareness training program
on disaster-related cognitions and preparedness behaviors. Agroup of adults who
did not participate in such a disaster awareness training program was also
evaluated in order to understand the impact of being exposed to disaster
awareness training. The results revealed that the participants had higher threat
perceptions as compared to nonparticipants. They had higher disaster
expectations, loss estimations and worry about future earthquakes. Furthermore,
among the predictors of these three cognitive variables being a participant in the
training program appeared as a significant variable. Thus, it seems that an eight-
hour awareness program led to heightened awareness. This is an important
finding within the context of the PrE model (Duval & Mulilis, 1999; Mulilis,
Duval, & Lippa, 1990; Mulilis & Duval, 1997). According to this model the fact
that the participants of the training program had a higher appraisal of threat is
suggested as being conducive to adaptive behavior, provided that they also
appraise their own resources as sufficient. Two other cognitive variables were
used in the present study, belief in the possibility of mitigation and
preparedness, which were examined to assess whether or not individuals believe
that reducing disaster damage and being prepared are possible. On these two
variables, although the participants had slightly higher scores than the nonpar-
ticipants, the differences between the two groups were not significant. Thus,
although risk awareness was higher among the participants, beliefs about doing
something about it were not significantly different in the two groups. However,
for both these variables being a participant was significant in the regression
analysis after controlling for other variables. This result indicated that
participation also had a positive impact on beliefs about mitigation and
preparedness.
Considering that 3 was the maximum score on these variables, an inspection of
the means for both groups reveals that they are both above 2, and thus quite high.
This may be related to the extensive media coverage of disasters and methods for
mitigation and preparedness following the 1999 Marmara earthquake. The
extensive impact of this earthquake might have led to a general awareness of the
possibility of mitigation and preparedness in Turkey. For this reason the control
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group, who did not report having had a formal disaster awareness training
experience, may have also developed these favorable cognitions for disaster
mitigation and preparedness. This issue needs to be examined in the future when
a massive disaster experience is not so prominent.
A crucial issue for disaster awareness training programs is to motivate
individuals to take appropriate action. Thus, in this regard, the present results
showed that the participants in the program had engaged in significantly more
preparedness behaviors. However, the mean values for preparedness behaviors
were very low. This is a disheartening result and indicates that, with a short
training program, although hazard-related cognitions could be influenced it is
difficult to facilitate behavioral change. In order to have an impact on actual
preparedness behaviors the programs may need to be longer and other concerns
of the community members may need to be reduced. During the final meeting
with the local trainers this group reported that although the training was received
with enthusiasm and interest, the participants in the trainers sessions stated that
they have other concerns in life, such as economic hardship, problems with their
health and meeting the financial costs of their childrens education. An in-depth
analysis of the concerns of the participants needs to be conducted in future
studies in order to understand reasons for not engaging in preparedness
behaviors.
As proposed by the PrE model, the appraisal of the coping resources of
individuals is also important for adaptive behavior. In our study, a direct
examination of the appraisals of the sample on their resources was not made.
However, personal resources were assessed by using certain sociodemographic
(e.g., education; household property) and personality variables (internal locus of
control). The results of the regression analysis revealed that cognitive variables,
reflecting threat appraisals (expectation of disasters, worry about disasters and
loss estimation for future disasters) were all related to gender. Women tended to
have higher disaster expectations, more worry, and higher loss estimations.
Furthermore, household property and being married were related to threat
perceptions, showing that the more individuals have at stake the more threat they
perceive. Education appeared to be important only for the worry dimension. The
more education people had the less worry they reported about future disasters.
Furthermore, education was found to be related to beliefs in mitigation and the
possibility of preparedness. Education was also found to be an important
predictor of preparedness behavior in previous studies (Kasapoglu & Ecevit,
2003; Rstemli & Karanci, 1999). Thus, education seems to be an important
resource for decreasing the worry of individuals and giving them a sense of
control in relation to mitigation and preparedness. Similarly, locus of control was
found to be related to beliefs in mitigation and preparedness. Thus, individuals
who have an internal locus of control, believing that they can exert control over
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events, are more likely to believe in the possibility of their controlling the
harmful consequences of disasters (mitigation and preparedness).
Anxiety, as an affective variable, was a significant predictor of disaster
expectations and worry about future disasters. Thus, being very anxious seems to
lead to higher threat perceptions.
LIMITATIONS
The regression analysis about disaster-related cognitions and preparedness
behaviors revealed low beta coefficients resulting in low levels of explained
variance (R squares). Our indicators of cognitions and beliefs were Likert-type
measures with only 3 response options, rather than 5. This was used due to
difficulties reported in our pilot testing for the comprehension of five-point
scales. This might have limited a better assessment of variation. Our measure of
preparedness behavior was also such that the mean for preparedness behaviors
was very low. The measure for preparedness behavior that we used was quite
conservative. In future studies a more detailed analysis of preparedness behaviors
needs to be adopted.
IMPLICATIONS
Overall, the results showed that for all disaster-related cognitions being a
participant in the disaster awareness training program made a difference. It seems
that the program was powerful in preparing individuals cognitively to tackle
future disasters. In spite of this, being men, having a higher level of education,
having a smaller household size, worrying about future disasters and most
important of all participating in even a short disaster awareness program,
contributed to disaster preparedness behaviors. This shows that in developing
countries like Turkey, the challenge is to find means and support mechanisms to
motivate community members to engage in actual preparedness behaviors.
Almost none of the people in our sample engaged in strengthening their buildings
against future disasters. This requires high levels of economic resources. For such
kinds of committed mitigation behaviors not only the individual but also the
community and state resources need to be mobilized. Even after such a large-
scale disaster as the Marmara earthquake of 1999 and although Turkey is a
country in which almost 90% of the population lives on earthquake-prone areas,
the Turkish state and civil society do not seem to have reached the point of having
cognitions and behaviors necessary for effective disaster mitigation and
preparedness. The present program can be considered as a small step in this
direction.
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