Degree Name

DrPH (Doctor of Public Health)


Public Health

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Robert Pack

Committee Members

Christopher Gregg, Mary Ann Littleton


The National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program partnered with the National Weather Service (NWS) in 2000 to create the TsunamiReadyTM (TR) Community program. TR is designed to help communities in coastal areas plan and prepare for tsunamis. To achieve TR recognition communities must meet certain criteria including specific emergency planning and management actions within the categories of mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.

This study’s purpose was to evaluate the acceptability and usefulness of key components of a proposed revised set of TR Community program guidelines. Research was guided by the Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) using Community Based Participatory Research methods to gather input from expert panels composed of local expert community stakeholders from 5 states and 1 US territory. Two qualitative data collection methods were used: online prediscussion surveys administered via Survey Monkey© and focus group discussions. Fifty participants attended 1 of 6 focus group discussions, with 20 participants completing surveys.

Data analysis focused on 8 discussion topics: subdivision of communities by vulnerability, proportion of the population to be protected, evacuation effectiveness, evacuation drills or exercises, vertical evacuation, educating businesses, educating residents, and acceptability of a revised guidelines format. Supporting and opposing themes were identified, providing rich information of community-level perceptions regarding the guidelines. Most notably, the fidelity of the 2 ELM pathways were confirmed as separate. The peripheral pathway demonstrated a significant need for clarification and definition of program terms and activities through the surveys, while focus groups facilitated the central pathway for participants to discuss and debate various program guidelines.

This study provides several recommendations based on community input for updating and revising the TR Community program guidelines including: revisions to the overall format, a new focus on community tsunami hazard, and additional actions and activities to improve community tsunami mitigation and preparedness efforts. Finally, the data and recommendations provided will be used to compile a final draft of the TR Community program guidelines for the NWS.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.