Applying Instructional Design Strategies and Behavior Theory to Household Disaster Preparedness Training

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Abstract

Context:

Interventions and media campaigns promoting household disaster preparedness have produced mixed results in affecting behaviors. In large part, this is due to the limited application of instructional design strategies and behavior theory, such as the Transtheoretical Model (TTM). This study describes the development and evaluation of Ready CDC, an intervention designed to increase household disaster preparedness among the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) workforce.

Objectives:

(1) Describe the instructional design strategies employed in the development of Ready CDC and (2) evaluate the intervention's impact on behavior change and factors influencing stage progression for household disaster preparedness behavior.

Design:

Ready CDC was adapted from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA's) Ready campaign. Offered to CDC staff September 2013–November 2015, it consisted of a preassessment of preparedness attitudes and behaviors, an in-person training, behavioral reinforcement communications, and a 3-month follow-up postassessment.

Results:

Ready CDC employed well-accepted design strategies, including presenting stimulus material and enhancing transfer of desired behavior. Excluding those in the TTM “maintenance” stage at baseline, this study determined 44% of 208 participants progressed at least 1 stage for developing a written disaster plan. Moreover, assessment of progression by stage found among participants in the “precontemplation” (n = 16), “contemplation” (n = 15), and “preparation” (n = 125) stages at baseline for assembling an emergency kit, 25%, 27%, and 43% moved beyond the “preparation” stage, respectively. Factors influencing stage movement included knowledge, attitudes, and community resiliency but varied depending on baseline stage of change.

Conclusions:

Employing instructional strategies and behavioral theories in preparedness interventions optimizes the potential for individuals to adopt preparedness behaviors. Study findings suggest that stage movement toward household preparedness was not spurious but rather associated with the intervention. Therefore, Ready CDC was successful in moving staff along the continuous process of adopting household disaster preparedness behaviors, thus providing a model for future interventions. The TTM suggests factors such as knowledge, beliefs, and self-efficacy will differ by stage and may differentially predict progression towards behavior adoption. Thus, tailoring interventions based on an individual's stage of change optimizes the potential for individuals to adopt desired behaviors.

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