NZPsS Conference 2016

I recently presented a paper, Social Support among Disaster First Responders: A Review of Literature, which I did with my PhD supervisory team: Dr Ian de Terte (Massey University, Wellington), Prof. Krzysztof Kaniasty (Indiana University of Pennsylvania, USA), and Prof. Christine Stephens (Massey University, Palmerston North), at the New Zealand Psychological Society (NZPsS) Annual Conference at Massey University, Wellington last 1-4 September 2016.

Social support is considered one of the key components of psychosocial recovery after disasters. Most studies, however, focus on the survivors, and we wanted to know what the literature says about social support in those who help the disaster survivors. Interestingly, very few studies explicitly investigated this area, and a considerable number of these studies also had methodological issues on top of the inherent issues surrounding disaster mental health research, and disaster research as a whole. These issues include having no comparison or pre-disaster data, the problem of isolating effects of social support variables, and the use of non-standardised measures.

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There is also the lack of research on received social support. Majority of the studies measured perceived social support. From an interventionist perspective, we argue that although it is important to know appraisals of the quality and availability of support (perceived support), what we can control and provide is the actual support (received support); hence, it is important to know the effectiveness of received social support and how it relates to psychosocial consequences.

This was my first conference presentation in New Zealand and it did not disappoint. It had some of the most interesting presentations and engaging discussions that I have listened to thus far.

A copy of the presentation slides may be downloaded here: [pdf]