Disaster nursing experiences of Chinese nurses responding to the Sichuan Ya'an earthquake

Y. H. Li, Sijian Li, S. H. Chen, X. P. Xie, Y. Q. Song, Z. H. Jin, X. Y. Zheng

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Background: China has experienced an increasing number of earthquake disasters in the past four decades. Although a health and disaster management system was initiated after the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, nurses' roles and experiences in a disaster have been overlooked. Methods: The researchers used qualitative descriptive design that included 16 participants. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews and observation notes, after which a qualitative content analysis was conducted. Findings: Three major themes emerged: the process of being dispatched from hospitals to the disaster zone, the effort involved in getting to and working in the affected site and reflecting on the challenges they encountered. Discussion: About half of the participants had received disaster nursing training before deploying to the disaster site, but they consistently expressed a lack of physical and psychological preparedness regarding the process of being dispatched from their hospitals to the disaster zone. Limitations: This was a single-incident experience. Caution should be taken when trying to extend the findings to other parts of China. Conclusion: These findings highlighted the need for disaster in-service training as well as for having disaster plans in place. Implications for nursing and health policy: Hospital and nursing leaders should provide disaster training opportunities that included topics such as compiling resource inventories, formulating disaster drills and simulations, managing emergencies, and using emergency communication methods. Health policy-makers should be required to prioritize capacity-building training for front-line nurses as well as to develop and implement disaster management plans to better prepare nurses for future disasters.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-317
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Nursing Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


  • China
  • Disaster
  • Disaster Nursing
  • Disaster Preparedness
  • Disaster Response
  • Nurses
  • Qualitative Investigation
  • Sichuan Ya'an Earthquake

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)

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