Psychosocial Dimensions of Biodefense Preparedness and Response: A Call for Strategic Systems   [open pdf - 375KB]

"This report is a call for a federally supported, public/private research and development effort to design, build, test, and evaluate state-of-the-art, computer-based systems that integrate planning assumptions about the psychosocial dimensions of largescale public health emergencies to enhance public health preparedness and response. Public health officials have become increasingly aware of the urgency to take psychosocial and behavioral factors into account in preparedness planning. There have been at least four times the numbers of people with psychiatric as compared to medical sequelae from mysterious or frightening public health emergency events. Moreover, under conditions in which people perceive themselves to be at high risk even when they are outside of the zone of risk, the number of people who fear that they have been exposed may be orders of magnitude greater than those actually at risk. This occurred during the mail-related anthrax attacks of 2001 in which there were only 22 cases of anthrax (including four deaths) yet 35,000 people received medication to protect themselves and it is thought that well over hundred thousand may have perceived themselves to be at high risk."

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