Understanding the disaster recovery outcomes literature

Francis Leo Archer, Dudley McArdle, Fiona Jane Brake Roberts, Caroline Spencer

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Study/Objective: To undertake a systematic literature review to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of the disaster recovery outcomes literature. Background: Disaster recovery is poorly researched, (Olshansky, 2005), neglected (Rubin, 2009) and not easily searched (Smith, 2009) (Chen&Burkle, 2013). Understanding good recovery outcomes could facilitate planning and preparedness for future events. Methods: The search strategy initially used key words: ‘disaster and recovery’, and their synonyms. Inclusion criteria focused on: evaluations; guidelines; best practice; good; successful; objectives; outcomes; indicators; measures; or effectiveness. Using a number of indexed databases and general search engines, the search focused on papers written in English, from 2000 onward. Results: From 1320 peer-reviewed titles identified, two people reviewed 448 abstracts with 9 (2%) papers meeting the inclusion criteria. 35 papers from the grey literature were also included. The following themes helped to structure the analysis of the ‘recovery outcomes literature’: 1. Theory of recovery 2. Best practices 3. Case studies 4. Outcomes 5. Models (Recovery Diva 15/10/14). Conclusion: Stratton describes peer reviewed disaster literature as process focussed and low quality, (Stratton, 2014) which the outcomes of this study reflected. The ‘grey literature’ proved more valuable than the ‘peer reviewed’ literature. Whilst a recent trend exists towards measuring outcomes and the development of recovery indicators, their use is not widespread and often confounded by the ‘resilience’ literature. Three clear recovery themes emerge: (1) the need to plan for recovery before major events occur, identified as ‘Advanced Recovery’, (2) the need for community-led activities, and, (3) the importance of community and individual networks. Greater scope for a ‘community development’ approach within the recovery framework could prove more fruitful. Recovery is complex and requires more research to examine recovery issues. The reasons for the paucity of recovery literature remain unclear. Prehosp Disaster Med 2015;30(Suppl. 1):s163 doi:10.1017/S1049023X15004458
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages163
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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