Author

Mercy Joseph

Date of Award

2-24-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Copyright Status for Dissertations

All Rights Reserved

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Nursing

Department

Nursing

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore how faith-based leaders cared for community-dwelling older adults in a natural disaster. This research focused on Hurricane Sandy, which affected Long Island, New York, in October 2012. The research question was: How do faith-based leaders care for community-dwelling older adults affected by a natural disaster, such as Hurricane Sandy? Natural disasters are often unexpected and can cause disruption, trauma, loss, and devastation of communities. A review of the literature identified that local faith-based leaders have a major role in the recovery process before, during, and after a natural disaster. Community-dwelling older adults have special needs after a natural disaster (due to comorbidities, special medications, lifesaving equipment that needs power to operate) and may rely on their own communities for support. Faith-based leaders may also play a crucial role in the recovery and healing process. There is a lack of research on the process of faith-based leaders caring for community-dwelling older adults in a natural disaster. This qualitative study utilized the grounded theoretical approach of Strauss and Corbin (1998). Data were collected through in-depth interviews of a diverse sample of faith-based leaders who cared for community-dwelling older adults during Hurricane Sandy. The interviews were audiotaped, transcribed, coded, and analyzed to determine categories and concepts. This study led to the development of a substantive theory about the process of how faith-based leaders cared for older adults in a natural disaster. This study identified disempowerment as the basic psychosocial problem in the older adults in a natural disaster. The substantive theory that originated from this study is “Faith-Blind Care.” The four major categories that led to faith-blind care were: providing presence to the community by the faith leaders (contacting the community), need-based care, rebuilding the community, and universal brotherhood and sisterhood. All of the categories had multiple concepts that are interrelated. All of these categories are intermingled in such a way that one cannot be separated from another, and faith-blind care is the basic essence of the whole.

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