A Disaster Research Response Workshop: Enabling Public Health Research During Disasters was held June 12-13, 2014 at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) campus in Bethesda, MD. Workshop presentations and recordings are available from http://www.nationalacademies.org/HMD/Activities/PublicHealth/MedPrep/2014-JUN-13.aspx.
This workshop will examine strategies and partnerships for methodologically and ethically sound public health and medical research during future emergencies. Discussions will include issues with obtaining informed consent, obtaining approval from Institutional Review Boards, coordinating research efforts with emergency response, and ensuring timely collection of data.
The workshop is a collaboration of the NIH Disaster Research Response Project, the IOM Forum on Medical and Public Health Preparedness for Catastrophic Events, the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The NIH Disaster Research Response Project [http://disaster.nlm.nih.gov/dimrc/dr2/disasterresearch.html] is a pilot project led by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and supported by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), aimed at developing ready-to-go research data collection tools and a network of trained research responders.
The project’s goal is to make it as easy as possible for researchers to begin collecting health and other data following a major disaster. The focus is on data collection tools and protocols, the creation of networks of health experts also trained as research responders, and integration of the effort into federal response plans for future disasters. Although initially focused on environmental health issues, the hope is this project will be a model for timely collection of data supporting a range of medical and public health research.
As part of this project, NIEHS recently held a tabletop exercise in Long Beach, CA to test how a “research response” might work and what would be expected of researchers choosing to be trained research responders, i.e. first on the scene to begin collecting data once it is safe and reasonable to do so. The article “Tsunami exercise helps prepare research community for disaster response” [http://www.niehs.nih.gov/news/newsletter/2014/5/spotlight-tsunami/] describes the exercise and there’s also a video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcfxLmfXUE4&feature=youtu.be&a.
Disaster Lit: the Resource Guide for Disaster Medicine and Public Health (from NLM) now includes records for research tools, such as online surveys and interview scripts, to aid researchers in quickly selecting appropriate measures.