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Group-based mindfulness-informed psychological first aid after Typhoon Haiyan

Regina M. Hechanova (Department of Psychology, Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City, Phillipines)
Pia Anna P. Ramos (Department of Psychology, Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City, Phillipines)
Lynn Waelde (Pacific Graduate School of Psychology, Palo Alto University, California, USA)

Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Article publication date: 2 November 2015




The purpose of this paper is to develop and evaluate a culturally sensitive and mindfulness informed psychological first aid (PFA) intervention for use with disaster workers in the Philippines intended to increase disaster knowledge and disaster coping self-efficacy.


The study used a non-experimental, pre-test, post-test design. Measures of disaster knowledge and disaster coping self-efficacy were measured before and after the PFA intervention.


Paired sample t-tests revealed significant pre/post-increases in knowledge about disaster reactions and disaster coping self-efficacy. Workshop evaluations indicated that the following proportions of participants rated these workshop components as the most useful: mindfulness, information about disaster reactions, small group sharing, information about coping, and the open space activity.

Research limitations/implications

As in many disaster studies, it was not possible to include a randomized control group in the design. Another limitation was that only pre- and post-intervention data were collected. Future research should include longer-term follow-ups with participants to assess whether the benefits of the intervention are maintained over time. Future research may wish to address the limitations of the study including the lack of a control group and obtaining follow-up data to enable more robust conclusions.

Practical implications

These results indicate how the use of a group-based intervention may be helpful especially in a collectivist culture. At the same time, acknowledging cultural values such as spirituality is an important component to providing psychosocial support for survivors. Mindfulness was found useful both as an initial calming activity as well as a means for helping survivors manage their stress reactions. Finally, the utilization of an open space activity can also be a helpful problem-solving mechanism when done in intact groups, as it enhances not just self-efficacy but also community efficacy among survivors.


The study contributes to the dearth of knowledge on the use of PFA when used in a group, collective, and developing country setting.



The authors wish to acknowledge the Local Government Academy and its Directors, Ms Marivic Secondencillo for sponsoring the intervention that was described in this paper. The authors also wish to acknowledge Bernice Landoy and Neil Kintanar for their assistance with data collection.


Hechanova, R.M., Ramos, P.A.P. and Waelde, L. (2015), "Group-based mindfulness-informed psychological first aid after Typhoon Haiyan", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 24 No. 5, pp. 610-618.



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