Quality of healthcare services provided in disaster shelters: An integrative literature review

Tener Goodwin Veenema, Adam B. Rains, Mary Casey-Lockyer, Janice Springer, Mary Kowal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Globally, shelters are a resource to promote critical health and safety in disasters, particularly for vulnerable populations (e.g., children, elderly, chronically ill). This study examines the nature and quality of healthcare services rendered in disaster and emergency shelters. Objectives: To determine based upon systematic and accurate measurement the scope and quality of health care services rendered in disaster shelters and to describe the health outcomes experienced by shelter residents. Methods: An integrative review of English-language literature pertaining to the assessment, evaluation, and systematic measurement of healthcare quality and client outcomes in disaster and emergency shelters was undertaken. Articles were identified using a structured search strategy of six databases and indexing services (PubMed, CINAHL, EMBase, Scopus, Web of Science, and Google Scholar). Results: Limited literature exists pertaining specifically to metrics for quality of health care in acute disaster and emergency shelters, and the literature that does exist is predominately U.S. based. Analysis of the existing evidence suggests that nurse staffing levels and staff preparedness, access to medications/medication management, infection control, referrals, communication, and mental health may be important concepts related to quality of disaster health care services. Conclusions: A small number of population-based and smaller, ad hoc outcomes-based evaluation efforts exist; however the existing literature regarding systematic outcomes-based quality assessment of disaster sheltering healthcare services is notably sparse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-231
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Emergency Nursing
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2015


  • Disasters
  • Emergency shelter
  • Healthcare services
  • Quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency


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