A qualitative study of the social factors influencing disaster risk and vulnerability in Iran

Document Type : Original Article


1 Social Determinants of Health Research Center, Health Management and Safety Promotion Research Institute, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran

2 Department of Disaster's Public Health, School of Public Health, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

3 Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran


Background: Disasters occur as a result of the interaction between hazards and the societal conditions. These conditions that turn hazards into disasters are referred to as vulnerability. Vulnerability has different dimensions; one of its important dimensions is the social dimension.
Objectives: This study was conducted to explore social factors influencing disaster risk and vulnerability in Islamic Republic of Iran's social context.
Methods: This study was conducted with a qualitative approach. Data were collected through in-depth semi-structured interviews with experts who were purposefully selected. Collected data were analyzed and coded manually using the conventional content analysis technique. The trustworthiness of the study findings was checked by Guba and Lincoln's criteria (credibility, conformability, dependability and transformability).
Results: In this study, 16 disaster management experts were interviewed. The coding process of the interviews led to the formation of 243 codes, which were merged and 10 categories of social factors affecting disaster risks and vulnerability were identified: personal characteristics, community risk perception, employment, quality of residence, social capital, disaster/risk governance, religious beliefs, economical condition, communication/social isolation, and the existence of infrastructures.
Conclusion: Many social factors cause increased disaster risks and vulnerabilities. These factors are affected by the characteristics of societies and act differently in each society. This study has identified and introduced these factors from the point of view of experts, which can be used by policymakers in this field.


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