School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Education in Community Care and Counseling (EdD)


William Holland


disaster relief, volunteers, posttraumatic growth, posttraumatic stress disorder


Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


This study investigated the psychological effects that disaster relief work has on disaster relief volunteers in North America. It provided the necessary framework for research that was conducted to examine if disaster relief volunteers are more vulnerable to developing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after they volunteer in disaster relief or if they become more resilient and develop posttraumatic growth (PTG) instead. This quantitative study also provided research questions and hypotheses and is a road map for future research. Disaster relief volunteers provide many irreplaceable services to the field of disaster relief. Understanding how disaster relief volunteers are impacted by the trauma they witness strengthens the research field. It allows for adjustments to be made so that disaster relief volunteers are trained and cared for so that they will have the desire to volunteer for future relief efforts. While other studies have researched similar impacts that disaster relief work has on volunteers, few have focused on volunteers serving in relief efforts in North America. Finally, this dissertation exposed the research gap and explained why this research is relevant to the field and what next steps should be taken.

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