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Disaster Psychiatry

Readiness, Evaluation, and Treatment

Frederick J. Stoddard, Jr., M.D., Anand Pandya, M.D., and Craig L. Katz, M.D.

  • ISBN 978-0-87318-218-8
  • Item #7218


It is becoming increasingly common for psychiatrists to be among the first responders when disaster strikes. More than 800 psychiatrists are believed to have responded to the 9/11 attacks. The first clinical manual on the best practices for helping those affected by disaster, Disaster Psychiatry: Readiness, Evaluation, and Treatment offers an explicit and practical discussion of the evidence base for recommendations for psychiatric evaluation and interventions for disaster survivors.

Disaster is defined by the World Health Organization as a severe disruption, ecological and psychosocial, that greatly exceeds a community’s capacity to cope. This manual takes an “all-hazards” approach to disasters and has application to natural occurrences such as earthquakes and hurricanes; accidental technological events such as airplane crashes; and willful human acts such as terrorism.

The field of disaster psychiatry is more important than ever, in response to disasters such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Today, disaster psychiatry encompasses a wide spectrum of clinical interests, ranging from public health preparations and early psychological interventions to psychiatric consultation to surgical units and psychotherapeutic interventions to alleviate stress in children and families after school shootings, hurricanes, or civil conflict. Although disaster mental health is still a young field, research is gradually yielding methods for accurately identifying valid relationships among preexisting risk factors, postdisaster mental health problems, and effective interventions.

With its practical approach to readiness, response, and intervention and its focus on evidence-based recommendations for psychiatric evaluation and interventions, Disaster Psychiatry: Readiness, Evaluation, and Treatment is an invaluable manual for educator and student alike. The manual draws on a variety of sources, including the peer-reviewed scientific literature, the clinical wisdom imparted by front-line psychiatrists and other mental health professionals, and the experiences of those who have organized disaster mental health services, including the American Psychiatric Association and Disaster Psychiatry Outreach. Each chapter provides clear and concise information and in-depth review, followed by helpful study questions and answers. This book has been developed to give professionals the knowledge they need to respond swiftly and appropriately when disaster strikes.


  • Contributors
  • Preface and Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Part I: Readiness
  • Chapter 1. Preparation and Systems Issues: Integrating Into a Disaster Response
  • Chapter 2. Communicating Risk Before, During, and After a Disaster
  • Chapter 3. Rescuing Ourselves: Self-Care in the Disaster Response Community
  • Chapter 4. Needs Assessment
  • Part II: Evaluation
  • Chapter 5. Psychiatric Evaluation
  • Chapter 6. Special Populations
  • Chapter 7. Serious Mental Illness
  • Chapter 8. Substance Abuse
  • Chapter 9. Personality Issues
  • Chapter 10. Injuries and Triage of Medical Complaints
  • Chapter 11. Grief and Resilience
  • Part III: Intervention
  • Chapter 12. Psychological First Aid
  • Chapter 13. Group and Family Interventions
  • Chapter 14. Psychotherapies
  • Chapter 15. Psychopharmacology: Acute Phase
  • Chapter 16. Psychopharmacology: Postacute Phase
  • Chapter 17. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Interventions
  • Chapter 18. Geriatric Psychiatry Interventions
  • Part IV: Emerging and Other Topics
  • Chapter 19. Psychiatrists as Ambassadors
  • Chapter 20. Legal and Ethical Issues
  • Chapter 21. Telepsychiatry in Disasters and Public Health Emergencies
  • Appendixes:
  • A Key Readings and Resources
  • B Answers to Review Questions
  • Index


    David R. Beckert, M.D.
    Grant H. Brenner, M.D.
    Frank G. Dowling, M.D.
    Kristina Jones, M.D.
    Edward M. Kantor, M.D.
    Craig L. Katz, M.D.
    Chad M. Lemaire, M.D., R.N., B.S.N.
    Joseph P. Merlino, M.D., M.P.A.
    David J. Mysels, M.D., M.B.A.
    Anthony T. Ng, M.D.
    Anand Pandya, M.D.
    Srinivasan S. Pillay, M.D.
    Kenneth Sakauye, M.D.
    Heather L. Shibley, M.D.
    Frederick J. Stoddard Jr., M.D.
    Maria A. Sullivan, M.D., Ph.D.

About the Authors

Frederick J. Stoddard Jr., M.D., is Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Shriners Hospitals for Children, Boston, Massachusetts, and Chair of the Committee on Disasters and Terrorism of the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry.

Anand Pandya, M.D., is Vice Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California; Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California Los Angeles; and Vice President of Disaster Psychiatry Outreach in New York, New York.

Craig L. Katz, M.D., is Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Medical Education at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, and President of Disaster Psychiatry Outreach in New York, New York.

Disasters, natural or man-made, have been with us always. Disaster Psychiatry, edited by Stoddard, Pandya, and Katz, is an essential roadmap for all clinicians. With a common voice of authority, the authors of this welcome text teach us what to expect when the next disaster arrives, how to figure out who needs what kind of help, and how to provide it.—John M. Oldham, M.D., Senior VP & Chief of Staff at The Menninger Clinic & Professor & Exec Vice Chairman in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at Baylor College of Med

This is an extremely comprehensive - yet easy to read and clinically oriented - manual covering all the aspects of the psychiatric approach to disasters. Special features are the case scenarios from past disasters followed by discussion, and the emphasis on public health preparation and resilience factors.—Mario Maj, Professor of Psychiatry and Chairman, Department of Psychiatry, University of Naples SUN, Naples, Italy

Disaster Psychiatry: Readiness, Evaluation, and Treatment is a welcome reference for psychiatrists who volunteer their time and expertise to help populations affected by exposure to catastrophic events. The authors of this unique training manual are experts who have experienced first hand or studied the predicament of colleagues faced with the sudden need to complement clinical expertise with a systematic public health approach to the unique challenges posed by disasters. Although the timing of disasters is hard to predict, anticipatory preparation of the type outlined in this volume, particularly in conjunction with specific training sessions, will greatly magnify the effectiveness and value of the skills and knowledge that our psychiatric colleagues bring to organized response efforts when disasters do occur. The American Psychiatric Association Committee on Psychiatric Dimensions of Disasters supports a disaster resource Web site (at, offers regular disaster training sessions for members at the Annual Meeting, and works with the network of disaster response agencies listed in this manual to coordinate member psychiatrist responses to such events. Drs. Stoddard, Pandya, and Katz have provided an outstanding educational resource for their psychiatric colleagues with enough foresight to plan ahead for responding to future disasters.—Darrel A. Regier, M.D., M.P.H., Research Director, American Psychiatric Association & APIRE, and Vice-Chair, DSM-5 Task Force

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