Factors affecting the process of taking action at individual level regarding mitigation and preparedness for an earthquake in Istanbul

Tekeli-Yeşil, Sidika. Factors affecting the process of taking action at individual level regarding mitigation and preparedness for an earthquake in Istanbul. 2009, Doctoral Thesis, University of Basel, Faculty of Science.


Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/diss/DissB_8816

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In order for disaster management to be effective and successful, efforts to improve preparedness at governmental, sectoral and institutional levels should be supported by corresponding efforts at community and individual levels. However, getting the cooperation of individuals and communities is a complex issue with many inherent difficulties.
The megacity Istanbul is located in an earthquake risk zone and is expected to experience an earthquake in the near future, but on the individual level there appears to be limited interest in preparing for such an earthquake. This study aims to investigate the process of taking action to prepare for an earthquake and mitigate its effects at individual level, to identify the factors influencing this process and to asses the level of preparedness in Istanbul.
The study was conducted in two districts of Istanbul with different levels of earthquake risk. Within these districts three socioeconomic levels (SEL) were considered.
The study is in two parts. In the first part, 12 focus group discussions (FGDs) with citizens living in Bakırköy (higher risk) and Beykoz (lower risk) and 11 in-depth interviews with experts, authorities and key informants were conducted. In the second part, a field survey was carried out in the same districts. A questionnaire was prepared according to the results of the first part of the study and was administered face-to-face by trained interviewers. A total of 1123 people were interviewed.
The qualitative part of the study demonstrated that, within our conceptual framework, which describes the process of taking action to prepare for an earthquake and mitigate its effects, the behaviour of the group participants fell into three different patterns. The first and most common pattern was interruption of the impetus towards taking action after or during the “awareness” stage by intervening social, personal and environmental factors. Less commonly, the first or subsequent step or steps were taken, but again the process was interrupted before successful completion. Completion of the process was the least common pattern among the group participants.
The qualitative part of the study identified the obstacle to taking action to mitigate damage from earthquakes and to be prepared for them as: low socioeconomic level; absence of belief in the efficacy of measures, for example regarding nonstructural or microscale-measures; helplessness; a culture of negligence; lack of trust in the building sector; environmental factors such as poor predictability and suddenness of onset; and normalisation bias. Factors motivating individuals to take action were: living in higher-risk areas; a higher educational level; direct experience of earthquakes through participating in rescue and solidarity activities during past events; and social interaction.
In our survey sample, 54% of the respondents had taken at least 3 of the 11 measures we asked about and 12% had not taken any measures. The five leading measures generally taken by the respondents were: getting the building tested for construction quality (51%), keeping a torch near the bed (49%), fixing high furniture to walls (39%), obtaining earthquake insurance (38%) and having a family disaster plan (32%). Testing the building for construction quality and obtaining earthquake insurance were significantly more frequent in the high-risk area (X2: 296.6, p<0.001; X2: 89.34, p<0.001).
Logistic regression analysis indicated that education level of the respondents (odds ratio, OR: 2.8, confidence interval, CI: 1.8, 4.4) was the leading factor associated with taking at least three measures, followed by living in a higher-risk area (OR: 2.3, CI: 1.6, 3.1), participating in rescue and solidarity activities in past earthquakes (OR: 2.0, CI: 1.2, 2.1), a higher earthquake knowledge score (OR: 1.9, CI: 1.4, 2.6), owning the home (OR: 1.8, CI: 1.3, 2.4), living in a neighbourhood known to be inhabited by people with higher SELs (OR: 1.6, CI: 1.1, 2.3), a higher action-stimulating attitudes score (OR: 1.5, CI: 1.2, 2.1) and general safety score (OR: 1.5, CI: 1.1, 2.2) and being in the young age group (16-34 years olds, OR: 0.6, CI: 0.4, 0.99).
It is not easy to change the situation of individuals regarding the factors that are significantly associated with taking action. They need interventions in the political, social and economic systems. But knowledge about earthquakes is the one factor that could be improved through simpler interventions such as effective awareness programmes. Thus every effort should be made effectively to provide earthquake information to the public. Awareness programmes should focus on informing people about how to cope with earthquakes and how to personalise the risk rather than on information about the risk itself and its consequences. In addition, these programmes should involve activities targeted on changing people’s attitudes towards different types of measure, actors in disaster management and their own capacity, and to creating a culture of safety in the public.
The target populations in the awareness programmes should be people with a lower educational level living in all areas, tenants, people living in low socioeconomic districts and young people. People who have participated in rescue and solidarity activities could be given appropriate roles and responsibilities to reach the community and local people.
Advisors:Tanner, Marcel
Committee Members:Braun-Fahrländer, Charlotte and Dedeoğlu, Necati
Faculties and Departments:09 Associated Institutions > Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) > Former Units within Swiss TPH > Molecular Parasitology and Epidemiology (Beck)
UniBasel Contributors:Tekeli-Yesil, Sidika and Tanner, Marcel and Braun-Fahrländer, Charlotte
Item Type:Thesis
Thesis Subtype:Doctoral Thesis
Thesis no:8816
Thesis status:Complete
Number of Pages:192
Identification Number:
edoc DOI:
Last Modified:22 Apr 2018 04:30
Deposited On:16 Oct 2009 08:44

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