What it takes to be resilient: The views of disaster healthcare rescuers

Xiaorong Mao, Alice Yuen Loke, Olivia Wai Man Fung, Xiuying Hu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Disaster healthcare rescuers are at risk of experiencing negative psychological effects. However, some are said to be resilient and to be protected from negative consequences. The purpose of this study was to explore and understand the characteristics of those disaster healthcare rescuers who were considered resilient in rescue work, and examine whether they experienced any positive changes in their life after being involved in rescue work. Methods: Focused group interviews were conducted with disaster healthcare rescuers from Sichuan, China. Purposive sampling was used to identify those disaster healthcare rescue workers who were deployed to conduct disaster work, who were able to continue doing their daily work, and who were considered to be resilient and to have suffered no obvious negative psychological consequences. Interviews were conducted until the point of data saturation. An inductive content analysis approach was adopted to analyze the data. Results: A total of four focus group interviews were conducted with 21 disaster rescue workers who were considered to be resilient. The healthcare rescuers considered that the characteristics that contributed to resilience were: having personality strengths, utilizing appropriate coping strategies, having social support, and making adequate preparations for rescue work. The rescuers also reported that they experienced positive changes in their life after deployment. Conclusion: The characteristics of the resilience shown by disaster healthcare rescuers were identified. Adequate preparedness and training for disaster rescue work is essential for the resilience of rescue workers. The identified characteristics can be used for the development of a tool for the screening of disaster rescuers and the development of interventions to enhance resilience in rescue workers, with the ultimate aim of preventing disaster rescuers from experiencing negative psychological consequences.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101112
JournalInternational Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction
Publication statusPublished - May 2019


  • China
  • Disaster
  • Healthcare rescue workers
  • Qualitative study
  • Resilience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Safety Research
  • Geology


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