Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Health Related Sciences

First Advisor

J.J. Cotter


Examining older adults’ experiences with and response toward hurricanes within the context of the community of residence is key to both understanding their experiences and planning for future hurricanes. Specific to this research, the objective was to understand the current social network of older adults, or who provides care for whom under what circumstances, using the social constructionist perspective. Grounded theory combined with action research was the theoretical orientation guiding the study. Sources of data included the collection of household disaster plans, semi-structured interviews with older adult residents of housing authority neighborhoods, semi-structured interviews with community planners, and observation of community planning meetings. Data were gathered from older adults living in housing authority communities in Southeastern North Carolina using guidelines established by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services to develop individual disaster plans. The individual disaster plans were completed during face to face meetings with the older adults, as were semi-structured interviews. Semi-structured interviews were also completed with area planners. Agendas, minutes, and observational notes from disaster planning meetings were collected. The content of the individual disaster plans, semi-structured interviews, and observation notes were then analyzed to determine gaps that must be addressed in order to meet the overall needs of the community. Working with participants, the housing authority disaster response committee, and county planners, a neighborhood plan will be developed that reflects the social construction of all concerned for use in response to future hurricanes. The impact of the multiple levels of communities was apparent in this research. While common thematic processes emerged in data analysis, planners, housing authority personnel and residents of housing communities define community differently. There is discordance when they identify needed resources, and when they reflect on past experience. A power differential which resulted in stifling was also observed.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

December 2011