Core Competencies in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance: A Systematic Review

Alba Ripoll Gallardo, Ahmadreza Djalali, Marco Foletti, Luca Ragazzoni, Francesco Della Corte, Olivera Lupescu, Chris Arculeo, Gotz Von Arnim, Tom Friedl, Michael Ashkenazi, Philipp Fisher, Boris Hreckovski, Amir Khorram-Manesh, Radko Komadina, Konstanze Lechner, Marc Stal, Cristina Patru, Frederick M. Burkle, Pier Luigi Ingrassia

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Disaster response demands a large workforce covering diverse professional sectors. Throughout this article, we illustrate the results of a systematic review of peer-reviewed studies to identify existing competency sets for disaster management and humanitarian assistance that would serve as guidance for the development of a common disaster curriculum. A systematic review of English-language articles was performed on PubMed, Google Scholar, Scopus, ERIC, and Cochrane Library. Studies were included if reporting competency domains, abilities, knowledge, skills, or attitudes for professionals involved disaster relief or humanitarian assistance. Exclusion criteria included abstracts, citations, case studies, and studies not dealing with disasters or humanitarian assistance. Thirty-eight papers were analyzed. Target audience was defined in all articles. Five references (13%) reported cross-sectorial competencies. Most of the articles (81.6%) were specific to health care. Eighteen (47%) papers included competencies for at least 2 different disciplines and 18 (47%) for different professional groups. Nursing was the most widely represented cadre. Eighteen papers (47%) defined competency domains and 36 (94%) reported list of competencies. Nineteen articles (50%) adopted consensus-building to define competencies, and 12 (31%) included competencies adapted to different professional responsibility levels. This systematic review revealed that the largest number of papers were mainly focused on the health care sector and presented a lack of agreement on the terminology used for competency-based definition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)430-439
Number of pages10
JournalDisaster medicine and public health preparedness
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 23 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • competency-based education
  • disaster medicine education
  • humanitarian aid
  • professionalization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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