Assessing the Impact of Natural Disaster on Mississippi Women's Access to Reproductive Health Services

Tuesday, 14 July 2009: 10:30 AM

Juanita Graham, MSN, RN
Health Services, Mississippi Department of Health, Jackson, MS
Lisa A. Haynie, PhD, RN, CFNP
School of Nursing, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, MS
LaDonna Kaye Northington, DNS, BC
School of Nursing, University of Mississippi, Jackson, MS
Tina M. Martin, PhD, RN, CFNP
School of Nursing, University of Mississippi School of Nursing, Jackson, MS

Learning Objective 1: List the barriers to timely completion of post-disaster research.

Learning Objective 2: Discuss the impact of Hurricane Katrina on Women's Access to family planning in Mississippi Gulf Coastal Communities.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to document the impact of the disaster on the reproductive health of women in Mississippi Gulf Coastal communities.

Methods: The research design involved completion of a survey toolkit. Women were approached randomly while visiting a community health center clinic. One hundred nine participants were interviewed but one was disqualified due to the age requirement. Questions were chosen from the survey data based on relevance to family planning. Data were entered into a web-based data management system. Pegasus® software was used to run frequency charts and tables. Results: The majority of survey respondents (64.7%) reported being sexually active within the last month. Thirty-seven participants responded that they were not currently using any family planning method, giving various reasons for that choice. A key finding was that nearly 40% of women reported they received family planning services at a hospital or emergent care center, hardly the appropriate location for individualized family planning and continuity of reproductive healthcare.

Conclusion: The toolkit presents a manageable pool of questions that can be implemented with minimal resources in a disaster zone. In areas requiring long-term disaster recovery, intermittent re-implementation of the survey could be helpful in identifying ongoing reproductive health needs. The question of whether Hurricane Katrina has caused women to seek family planning services via emergent care cannot be ascertained given the healthcare professional shortage throughout the state. Further study is recommended to assess and quantify the use of emergent care as a source of family planning services in other Mississippi regions.