Mortality following the Haitian earthquake of 2010: A stratified cluster survey

Shannon Doocy, Megan Cherewick, Thomas Kirsch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Research that seeks to better understand vulnerability to earthquakes and risk factors associated with mortality in low resource settings is critical to earthquake preparedness and response efforts. This study aims to characterize mortality and associated risk factors in the 2010 Haitian earthquake.Methods: In January 2011, a survey of the earthquake affected Haitian population was conducted in metropolitan Port-au-Prince. A stratified 60x20 cluster design (n = 1200 households) was used with 30 clusters sampled in both camp and neighborhood locations. Households were surveyed regarding earthquake impact, current living conditions, and unmet needs.Results: Mortality was estimated at 24 deaths (confidence interval [CI]: 20-28) per 1,000 in the sample population. Using two approaches, extrapolation of the survey mortality rate to the exposed population yielded mortality estimates ranging from a low of 49,033 to a high of 86,555. No significant difference in mortality was observed by sex (p = .786); however, age was significant with adults age 50+ years facing increased mortality risk. Odds of death were not significantly higher in camps, with 27 deaths per 1,000 (CI: 22-34), compared to neighborhoods, where the death rate was 19 per 1,000 (CI: 15-25; p = 0.080). Crowding and residence in a multistory building were also associated with increased risk of death.Conclusions: Haiti earthquake mortality estimates are widely varied, though epidemiologic surveys conducted to date suggest lower levels of mortality than officially reported figures. Strategies to mitigate future mortality burden in future earthquakes should consider improvements to the built environment that are feasible in urban resource-poor settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5
JournalPopulation Health Metrics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 25 2013


  • Earthquake
  • Haiti
  • Mortality
  • Natural disaster

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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