Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Nursing (Nursing)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Deborah Saber

Second Committee Member

Nilda Peragallo-Montano

Third Committee Member

Mary Hooshmand

Fourth Committee Member

James M. Shultz


Disasters can occur due to natural events or environmental accidents, or they can be purposeful and man-made. Regardless of how they occur, disasters place extraordinary stresses on society’s ability to deal with the catastrophic effects. Given the prevalence of disasters and infectious disease pandemics, there is an urgent need to improve education of healthcare providers. Because nurses comprise the largest percentage of healthcare providers and are early disaster responders, disaster preparedness is critical. Some studies have shown that an education gap exists between nursing school curricula and the expectations of nurses and nursing faculty with regard to disaster preparedness. While nursing students have traditionally received community health content related to natural disasters, there is an increasing concern among nursing faculty that students are not adequately trained to respond in the event of a disaster. Nursing students and nurses report not having the necessary knowledge and skills needed to respond to a disaster and unwillingness to respond to disasters. Through secondary analysis, the purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between current disaster preparedness education and training, and the associated changes in nursing student knowledge, perceptions, and skills acquisition through quantitative and qualitative analysis. Secondary data analysis of the Ebola Disaster Simulation Exercise Training was conducted employing independent samples t-test. Mixed analysis of variance (ANOVA) was employed to analyze data obtained from the Zombie Apocalypse Point-of-Distribution Disaster Exercise. Analysis of The Ebola Focus Group study was conducted employing content analysis. While both the accelerated option and traditional nursing students reported an increase in knowledge and skills acquisition, only the accelerated option group had a statistically significant increase in willingness to respond. Through content analysis the major themes “Purpose”, “Realism”, “Incentive/Motivation”, and “Vulnerability/Empowerment” were determined to impact the students’ perceptions of the benefits and limitations of the disaster exercises. Based on these findings, a preliminary model will be refined focusing on a step-wise instructional delivery method combining didactic content and hands-on learning. As nurse researchers, faculty members, and patient and community advocates, we are called upon to educate our future nurses in disaster preparedness and response. The results of this study provide a springboard for the development of an educational model for disaster preparedness education.


disaster preparedness; disaster education; disaster exercise; nursing disaster education