Time-Sensitive Research on Health Risk and Resilience after Hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands (R21 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

Program Description

NIMHD is leading a collaborative research effort to support time-sensitive research on risk and resilience factors related to short- and long-term health outcomes following Hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico (PR) and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI).

The hurricanes in PR and USVI resulted in many social and psychological hardships. Some examples include grief related to the loss of loved ones, pets, home, land, or possessions; displacement from home or community; temporary or permanent separation from family members relocating to the mainland U.S.; disruption of work and social support networks; and limited access to medical care. These hurricane-related psychosocial stressors can produce immediate health impacts related to post-traumatic distress or other mental health issues or exacerbate existing chronic medical or psychiatric illnesses. These stressors can also lead to an increase in risk factors for subsequent chronic disease morbidity and mortality, such as poor nutrition, physical inactivity, smoking, alcohol and substance use, risky sexual behavior, and lack of adherence to health maintenance or disease self-management behaviors. Individual, family, community, and territory-level coping strategies and responses may increase or decrease the impact of these stressors on health outcomes.

Research is needed to understand post-hurricane risk and resilience factors as well as health care needs to both inform on-going recovery efforts and to prepare for future disruptions. It is important that such research be conducted in the immediate aftermath or recovery phase of disasters, so that risk, resilience, and health status can be assessed as needs develop and transition rather than relying on retrospective data or recall of individuals.

NIH Guide No.: RFA-MD-18-006