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Mass Trauma > Research > Possible Research Studies
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Possible Research Studies

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Research studies conducted during and after mass trauma events can provide important information for allocating health and emergency resources during the current event and for preventing injuries in future events. Studies can include epidemiologic, behavioral, or health services research and can be conducted by state or local health departments, university researchers, or others. This section provides examples of possible studies related to mass trauma events in the behavioral, community, and medical or clinical. 

The research questions, design, and sampling strategies for each study will need to be modified to fit the specific circumstances of the mass trauma event. Studies can also be combined to encompass more than one research topic. 

These study descriptions are provided to help state and local health departments respond as quickly as possible in mass trauma events.

Research Goals

Goals for research may include:

  • To assess the magnitude of injury, mental health, and other health conditions attributable to or exacerbated by the event. 
  • To provide data for developing strategies (behavioral, medical, environmental, structural, etc. changes) for preventing or ameliorating injuries and emotional trauma in the current and future events.
  • To provide data for assessing the level of public health support and health care resources needed in the current and future events. 
  • To determine what health and social services were lacking that are needed for future events. 


Mass Trauma Event: Any multi-casualty incident resulting from a large-scale natural disaster or from a conventional weapons (explosives, small arms, military munitions) terrorist attack that affects community health and access to vital services. A multi-casualty incident usually involves six or more casualties.

Event Outcomes 

  • Negative health effects (injuries, deaths, disabilities and emotional trauma) resulting directly from the event (e.g., an explosion).
  • Behavioral or organizational responses to the event (e.g., evacuation behaviors, health services) that may have reduced or caused negative health effects.
  • Negative health or behavioral effects (e.g., injuries, deaths, disabilities, emotional trauma, unintentional injuries, substance use) related to, but not directly caused by, the event.


Directly exposed individuals: Individuals who were physically present at the time of the event.

Immediate family members of persons directly exposed to the event. 

Indirectly exposed individuals: Individuals who were not physically present at the time of the assault but were indirectly impacted physically, emotionally, or socially by the event.

Emergency workers/first responders: individuals who engaged in evacuation and recovery efforts, patient triage, or onsite medical or first aid treatment. 

Common Acronyms

ASD  Acute Stress Disorder 
CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
ME Medical Examiner
ED Emergency Department
PTSD Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
DMAT Disaster Medical Assistance Team
EMS Emergency Medical Service
IRB Institutional Review Board
NCIPC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control
CIO Centers/Institutes/Offices
DMORT Disaster Mortuary Response Team
DFO Disaster Field Office
ERT Emergency Response Team
EOC  Emergency Operations Center
EIS Epidemic Intelligence Service
ERC Emergency Response Coordinator
FEMA Federal Emergency Response Agency

Example Studies


Page content last revised 5/14/03.

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This page last reviewed 08/04/04.

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