Public experiences of mass casualty decontamination

Holly Carter*, John Drury, G. James Rubin, Richard Williams, Richard Amloô

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    26 Citations (Scopus)


    In this article, we analyze feedback from simulated casualties who took part in field exercises involving mass decontamination, to gain an understanding of how responder communication can affect people's experiences of and compliance with decontamination. We analyzed questionnaire data gathered from 402 volunteers using the framework approach, to provide an insight into the public's experiences of decontamination and how these experiences are shaped by the actions of emergency responders. Factors that affected casualties' experiences of the decontamination process included the need for greater practical information and better communication from responders, and the need for privacy. Results support previous findings from small-scale incidents that involved decontamination in showing that participants wanted better communication from responders during the process of decontamination, including more practical information, and that the failure of responders to communicate effectively with members of the public led to anxiety about the decontamination process. The similarity between the findings from the exercises described in this article and previous research into real incidents involving decontamination suggests that field exercises provide a useful way to examine the effect of responder communication strategies on the public's experiences of decontamination. Future exercises should examine in more detail the effect of various communication strategies on the public's experiences of decontamination. This will facilitate the development of evidence-based communication strategies intended to reduce anxiety about decontamination and increase compliance among members of the public during real-life incidents that involve mass decontamination.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)280-289
    Number of pages10
    JournalBiosecurity and Bioterrorism
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2012


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