Public Disaster Communication and Child and Family Disaster Mental Health: A review of theoretical frameworks and empirical evidence

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Current Psychiatry Reports


Disaster, Children, Intervention, Communication, Campaign, Mental health


Children have been identified as particularly vulnerable to psychological and behavioral difficulties following disaster. Public child and family disaster communication is one public health tool that can be utilized to promote coping/resilience and ameliorate maladaptive child reactions following an event. We conducted a review of the public disaster communication literature and identified three main functions of child and family disaster communication: fostering preparedness, providing psychoeducation, and conducting outreach. Our review also indicates that schools are a promising system for child and family disaster communication. We complete our review with three conclusions. First, theoretically, there appears to be a great opportunity for public disaster communication focused on child disaster reactions. Second, empirical research assessing the effects of public child and family disaster communication is essentially nonexistent. Third, despite the lack of empirical evidence in this area, there is opportunity for public child and family disaster communication efforts that address new domains.