Responding to Haiti’s Earthquake: International Volunteers’ Health Behaviors and Community Relationships

August 2013 (VOL. 31, NO. 2)

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International disaster volunteers are an important group of workers on the ground after a disaster who have not been the subject of much research. Utilizing survey data from volunteers with a non-governmental organization in Leogane, Haiti after the 12 January 2010 earthquake, this paper focuses on volunteers’ characteristics, their health behaviors (i.e. protective and risky), and their interactions and relationships with their host community. The volunteer population was primarily made up of single young adults with a high level of education. They engaged in various protective health behaviors, with women more likely to use of bug repellent and sunscreen more frequently than men. The majority of volunteers believed that interactions with the host community were not significant to their work; however they believed that a strong relationship was important to the success of the relief effort. Disaster volunteer health behaviors and relationships with the host community should continue to be studied.