Document Type

Capstone Experience

Graduation Date


Degree Name

Master of Public Health



First Committee Member

Christopher Wichman, PhD

Second Committee Member

Jesse Bell, PhD

Third Committee Member

Sharon Medcalf, PhD


Objective: The Rural Natural Disaster Stress and Recovery study surveyed flood and tornado affected residents (N=159 for analysis) in Arkansas and Nebraska, U.S., to address three hypotheses: 1) agricultural producers have different stress and recovery experiences compared to non-agricultural counterparts, 2) rural residents prefer community resources over external resources for disaster stress relief, and 3) communities can provide effective emotional health supports after disaster.

Methods: Demographics, exposure, stress, and recovery measures, and a resource use and effect inventory were analyzed in SAS with Chi-square tests, t-tests, Wilcoxon tests, and multiple linear regression modeling to identify differences between agricultural and non-agricultural groups. Qualitative analysis of open field survey responses summarized community preferences for disaster stress reduction. People, groups, and activities common in post-disaster settings were evaluated for stress effects.

Results: The agricultural subgroup did not have significantly different resilience, stress, or recovery ratio measures compared to the rural, non-agricultural subgroup. Posttraumatic growth score was significantly lower in the agriculture group on t-test (p = 0.02), and an occupation group by sex interaction was significantly associated with posttraumatic growth score in multiple linear regression (p = 0.02) with agricultural women showing lower scores. A majority of participants reported things they did for themselves or help from their community was most effective for decreasing disaster stress. Friends and neighbors and family were most frequent resources used, but group from neighboring community, personal faith activities, and helping others reduced stress more often. Repairing property and following news or social media most frequently increased stress. Family, friends, faith, neighbors, and community were top choices to decrease stress in a future disaster.

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