The response of Texas public health agencies and workers to the emergency preparedness initiatives after 9/11

Sandra K Tyson, The University of Texas School of Public Health


The purpose of this research was to better understand the impact of the terrorist attacks in 2001 on public health, particularly for Texas public health. This study employed mixed methods to examine changes to public health culture within Texas local public health agencies, important attitudes of public health workers toward responding to a disaster, and the funding policies that might ensure our investment in public health emergency preparedness is protected. A qualitative analysis of interviews conducted with a large sample of public health officials in Texas found that all the constituent parts of a peculiar culture for public health preparedness existed that spanned the state's local health departments regardless of size, or funding level. The new preparedness culture in Texas had the hallmarks necessary for a robust public health preparedness and emergency response system. The willingness of public health workers, necessary to make these kinds of changes and mount a disaster response was examined in one of Texas' most experienced disaster response teams—the public health workers for the City of Houston. A hypothesized latent variable model showed that willingness mediated all other factors in the model (self-efficacy, knowledge, barriers, and risk perception) for self-reported likelihood of reporting to work for a disaster. The RMSEA for the final model was 0.042 with a confidence interval of 0.036—0.049 and the chi-squared difference test was P=0.08, indicating a well-fitted model that suggests willingness is an important factor for consideration by preparedness planners and researchers alike. Finally, with disasters on the rise and federal funding for preparedness dwindling, a review of states' policies for the distribution of these funds and their advantages and disadvantages were examined through a review of current literature and public documents, and a survey of state-level public health officials, emergency management professionals and researchers. Although the base plus per-capita method is the most common, it is not necessarily perceived to be the most effective. No clear "optimal" method emerged from the study, but recommendations for a strategic combination of three methods were made that has the potential to maximize the benefits of each method, while minimizing the weaknesses.

Subject Area

Cultural anthropology|Behavioral psychology|Public health

Recommended Citation

Tyson, Sandra K, "The response of Texas public health agencies and workers to the emergency preparedness initiatives after 9/11" (2012). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3518885.