Dückers, M.L.A., Thormar, S.B., Juen, B., Ajdukovic, D., Newlove, L., Olff, M.
Measuring and modelling the quality of 40 post-disaster mental health and psychosocial support programmes
PLoS One, 13 (2018) 2, p. e0193285.
Disasters can have an enormous impact on the health and well-being of those affected.
Internationally governments and service providers are often challenged to address complex
psychosocial problems. Ideally, the potentially broad range of support activities include a
coherent, high-quality mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) programme. We
present a theory-driven quantitative analysis of the quality of 40 MHPSS programmes,
mostly implemented in European disaster settings. The objective is to measure quality
domains recognized as relevant in the literature and to empirically test associations. During
the EU project ªOperationalizing Psychosocial Support in Crisisº (OPSIC) an evaluation survey
was designed and developed for this purpose and completed by 40 MHPSS programme
coordinators involved in different mass emergencies and disasters. We analysed the survey
data in two steps. Firstly, we used the data to operationalize quality domains of a MHPSS
programme, tested constructs and assessed their internal consistency reliability. A total of
26 out of 44 survey items clustered into three of the four domains identified within the theoretical
framework: ªplanning and delivery systemº (Cronbach's alpha 0.82); ªgeneral evaluation
criteriaº (Cronbach's alpha 0.82); and ªessential psychosocial principlesº (Cronbach's
alpha 0.75). ªMeasures and interventions appliedº, theoretically a potential fourth domain,
could not be confirmed to empirically cluster together. Secondly, several models with associations
between domains and measures and interventions were tested and compared. The
model with the best fit suggests that in MHPSS programmes with a higher planning and
delivery systems score, a larger number of measures and interventions from evidenceinformed
guidelines are applied. In such programmes, coordinators are more positive about
general evaluation criteria and the realization of essential psychosocial principles. Moreover,
the analyses showed that some measures and interventions are more likely to be
applied in programmes with more evolved planning and delivery systems, yet for most measures
and interventions the likelihood of being applied is not linked to planning and delivery system status, nor to coordinator perceptions concerning psychosocial principles and evaluation
criteria. Further research is necessary to validate and expand the findings and to learn
more about success factors and obstacles for MHPSS programme implementation.