Older adults in disaster and emergency management: what are the priority research areas in Australia?

Lisa Fountain, Matalena Tofa, Katharine Haynes, Melanie R. Taylor, Susan J. Ferguson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


In Australia, the proportion of people aged over 65 years is increasing and the frequency and severity of natural hazard events are also increasing. Older adults are often identified as a vulnerable group in natural hazard events, but there has been relatively little research that focuses specifically on older adults and their capacities and needs. This paper describes stakeholder consultation undertaken to identify research priorities related to older adults and natural hazards in Australia, and compares this to current research literature on this topic identified in an initial scoping review. A two-phase modified Delphi study was undertaken with stakeholder organisations within Australia, including older adults' representative organisations, community services, and emergency services. Stakeholders (n=112) first identified priority research areas and 649 distinct topics were suggested; thematic analysis was used to refine these to 19 research topic areas that were then rated and ranked for importance by stakeholders during phase two. The top five topic areas identified were ‘Communication and warnings,’ ‘Preparedness,’ ‘Awareness, behaviour and decision-making,’ ‘Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities,’ and ‘Community services and organisations’. While these topics are covered in some Australian literature, further research – particularly in relation to CALD communities, and community services/ organisations – is needed. This study demonstrates the value of stakeholder engagement and the Delphi approach for identifying research priorities that can best address issues and concerns amongst diverse stakeholders. It also highlights that there is a need for further research with older adults, communities, and stakeholders to support preparedness, risk reduction, and resilience.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101248
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019


  • natural hazards
  • emergency management
  • disaster management
  • older adults
  • Delphi method
  • stakeholder engagement


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