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About Disaster Lit®


  • Disaster Lit: the Resource Guide for Disaster Medicine and Public Health is a database of links to disaster medicine and public health documents available on the Internet at no cost. Documents include expert guidelines, research reports, conference proceedings, training classes, factsheets, websites, databases, and similar materials selected from over 700 organizations for a professional audience. Materials are selected from non-commercial publishing sources and supplement disaster-related resources from PubMed (biomedical journal literature) and MedlinePlus (health information for the public).
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Scope: What's in Disaster Lit?

  • Disaster Lit includes links to expert guidelines, research reports, conference proceedings, training classes, factsheets, websites, databases, and similar materials from non-commercial sources. The materials selected are those typically referred to as grey literature, which is defined by the Grey Literature Network Service (GreyNet) as

“multiple document types produced on all levels of government, academics, business, and organizations in electronic and print formats not controlled by commercial publishing, i.e. where publishing is not the primary activity of the producing body.”

  • Disaster Lit includes records for surveys, interview scripts, and other tools recommended for use in data collection following a disaster. These records were added in 2014 as part of the NIH Disaster Research Response Project (DR2). One goal of the Project is to pre-select data collection tools that researchers may find useful after a disaster. This will reduce the time researchers spend writing their own data collection tools, or finding, selecting, and evaluating pre-existing tools. These records include details on the content of the tools and their developers, as well as journal article citations noting their use in disaster research. Some of the tools and journal article citations may be available by paid subscription only (all other materials in Disaster Lit are no-cost). To identify these research tools, click on ‘Find…Disaster Research Data Collection Tools’ on the upper right of the home page or search on ‘DR2.’
  • Disaster Lit links to each document at its original source and does not archive or keep a copy of the full text of each resource.
  • Disaster Lit includes only English-language materials that are available on the Internet at no cost. Some sources may require free registration to access their materials. Materials available only in print or by paid subscription are not included. Some materials are also identified as available in other languages. 
  • Over 700 associations, government agencies, and non-government organizations (NGOs) have been selected as sources of documents for Disaster Lit. See Sources Scanned for Disaster Lit Content for a sample of the major organizations that are reviewed for Disaster Lit.
  • New Resources in Disaster Lit can be retrieved for the last 7, 14, 30 or 60 days. Disaster Lit is continuously updated.
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Target Audience - Who uses Disaster Lit?

  • Materials are selected for a professional audience that is responsible for the medical and public health aspects of planning, mitigation, response, recovery, and research related to disasters and public health emergencies. Prior to June 2011, materials were selected primarily for the public health workforce. Records added after July 2011 do not have an assigned Audience Type.
  • Disaster Lit does not include materials for a health consumer or general public audience. Materials for the public are available in MedlinePlus which includes many disaster-related topic pages in English and in Spanish.
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Records - What information is in a record?

  •  A record is created in Disaster Lit for each item added to the database. Records include the following descriptive information:
Field Comments
Title Includes subtitle.
Source The original publisher of the item.
Date Published Date when the item was originally published, based on best available information. May indicate year, year/month or year/month/day.
Format One ‘format’ is assigned to each record from this list:
  • Image
  • PDF (including the size of the file)
  • Presentation Slides
  • Text
  • Video or Multimedia
Annotation Description of the subject content of the item.
URL The web address for the item.
Authors Up to three authors are listed for each item. Three author’s names followed by “et al.” indicates there are more than three authors.
Type One ‘Publication Type’ is assigned to each record.
Access Notes Description of required software and instructions for connecting to materials.

Description of audiovisual materials.

May also indicate:
  • ‘This link is no longer available.’
  • ‘Site requires free registration.
Standard Number Records prior to 2013 may include an International Standard Book Number (ISBN).
ID Unique identification number assigned by Disaster Lit to each record.
Includes Research Tools: Yes This document (in the appendices or text) includes data collection instruments that may be useful to researchers following a disaster
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Publication Types - What kinds of documents are in Disaster Lit?

  • One Publication Type is assigned to each item in Disaster Lit.  The most common publication types are ‘Report’ and ‘Instructional/Training Material.’

  • Publication Types are:

    • Bibilography/Resource List
    • Book/Book Chapter
    • Conference/Meeting Material
    • Database/Dataset
    • Dictionary/Glossary
    • Fact Sheet
    • Guidelines/Assessment Tool
    • Hearing/Testimony
    • Instructional/Training Material
    • Legal Document
    • Map/Atlas
    • Report
    • Web Page
    • Web Site
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Search Guide

  • How to Search

    To search Disaster Lit, type a word or phrase into the search box. Click the ‘Search’ button or press the ‘Enter’ button on your keyboard. The results page shows records that found your search words in the:

    • Title and Subtitle
    • Source Name or Acronym
    • Date Published
    • Format
    • Annotation
    • URL
    • Authors
    • Type
    • Access Notes
    • Standard Number

    Disaster Lit automatically expands your search to include:

    • Plural and singular forms of search words.
    • Example: a search on hurricane will return results that contain either the word hurricane or hurricanes.
    • Words with or without capitalization.
    • Example: FEMA is also searched as fema.

    To retrieve all records with TWO or MORE terms:

    • Enter the terms in the search box.
    • Enter the terms in the search box with AND between each term. AND must be in upppercase characters.
    • Example: pandemics AND children will return results that contain both the words pandemic and children.

    To search an exact phrase:

    • Use quotation marks around the phrase.
    • Example: "heat wave"

    To search a word or phrase with punctuation:

    • Use quotation marks around the word or phrase. Without quotation marks, all punctuation is ignored.
    • Example: "Are We Ready?"

    To retrieve all records with EITHER of two or more terms:

    • Enter the terms in the search box with OR between each term. OR must be in uppercase characters.
    • Example:  hurricane OR flood will return results with either of the words hurricane or flood

    To retrieve all records with one term, EXCLUDING another term:

    • Enter the terms in the search box with NOT between terms. NOT must be in uppercase characters.
    • Example:  disasters NOT influenza

    Phrases and terms can be combined using the Boolean AND, OR, NOT, quotation marks and parantheses.

    • Examples:
      • (heat OR wave OR extreme) AND “public health”
      • ((terrorism OR bioterrorism OR terrorist) AND "homeland security") NOT anthrax
      • ("food safety" OR "food defense") AND "food and drug administration"
      • sandy AND (hurricane OR superstorm)
      • "hurricane sandy" OR "superstorm sandy"

    To retrieve all records in the database, leave the search box empty and click ‘Search.’

    Search results can be further limited or filtered by Source, Publication Type, Publication Year, Included Research Tools, and Author using the check boxes on the left side of the results page.

  • Viewing Search Results

Search results can be viewed online or printed. Search results can be sorted by ‘Source’ or by ‘newest first’ and displayed with 10, 25, 50, 100, 500 or 1,000 records on a web page. The full citation displays for each record. Click ‘Collapse all’ to show only the first three lines of each annotation; click ‘Expand all’ to return to the full annotation for each record. Click ‘Next’ or ‘Previous’ to move back or forward to adjacent pages and ‘First’ or ‘Last’ to display the first and last page of your results.

  • Printing Search Results

On the search results page, click the ‘Print Results’ button. To print, use the print function of your web browser. When printing results, up to 10 records with complete annotations will be printed at one time. To print more than 10 records, change ‘Results/page’ to 25 or higher. To print the complete annotation, click ‘Expand all.’

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Links to Documents

  • Materials in Disaster Lit are available at no cost on the Internet. Some instructional/training materials require free registration as indicated by the note, ‘Site requires free registration.’

  • Best efforts are made to keep web links (URLs) current. When an item can no longer be found at any URL, the record indicates ‘This link is no longer available.’ and the record is retained for informational/historical purposes.

  • Disaster Lit does not archive or keep copies of the full text of any material.

  • Disaster Lit links to both materials that are in the public domain and materials protected by copyright or licensing restrictions. Please consult the original source for copyright or licensing information.

  • Materials from the NIH Disaster Research Response Project (DR2) may have licensing restrictions and/or charge fees for some of the proprietary, copyrighted data collection tools. Some of the journal articles that describe the tools may be available by paid subscription only. Each record notes if there is a cost to access the tool, and if any journal articles are “Subscription required.”
  • Please report broken links to

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Viewing Documents with Viewers and Plug-ins

  • Disaster Lit links to documents and other materials offered in many different formats. This table provides links to viewers for commonly used media and document formats. If you are having difficulty viewing material, please contact us.

Format Description Download Page
PDF Adobe Reader ®
MS Excel Microsoft Excel Viewer
MS Media Microsoft Office Animation Runtime
MS Media RealNetworks RealPlayer
MS Media Adobe Flash Player
MS Power Point Microsoft PowerPoint Viewer 2007
MS Word Microsoft Word Viewer
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Finding Additional Disaster Health Information Publications from Other Databases

  • To expand your search beyond Disaster Lit, first do a search in Disaster Lit, then scroll down to ‘Results from other NLM Resources:’ on the lower left. Click on each ‘View search results…’ to connect to PubMed, MedlinePlus, and NLM: More Disaster Resources. Your search strategy may require modification when in these other resources.
  • The Guide to the Disaster Medicine and Public Health Literature web page provides an overview of disaster medicine journals, libraries, databases, and other sources of publications. Also check the NLM Catalog for the holdings of the National Library of Medicine.

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Linking to Disaster Lit

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