Zhirui Chen

ORCID Identifier(s)


Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work


Social Work

First Advisor

Zhen Cong


This dissertation consists of three independent articles, investigating the age differences in preparing for the continuation of COVID-19 pandemic, experiencing negative COVID-19 impacts across multiple domains, and psychologically recovering from cumulative disaster exposures during the COVID-19 pandemic, with an emphasis on the strengths of older adults. Data used were from the longitudinal research project “Vulnerability and Resilience to Disasters” conducted in Texas, Tennessee, and Alabama, USA. Multiple linear regressions from Article 1 (N = 450) showed that compared to those aged 65+, people aged 18-44 perceived a lower level of preparedness for the ongoing COVID-19; and there was no significant difference in perceived preparedness between people age 65+ and those aged 45-64. In Article 2, latent class analysis (N = 1,080) yielded three classes of multidimensional COVID-19 impacts: class 1 “low overall impacts”, class 2 “moderate overall impacts with high emotional distress”, and class 3 “severe overall impacts”. Subsequent multinomial logistic regressions revealed that compared to those aged 65-74, people aged 18-34, 35-49, and 50-64 had higher odds of being in “severe overall impacts” class versus “low overall impacts” class. In Article 3, negative binomial regressions (N = 554) indicated that individuals aged 65+ reported lower psychological distress relative to those aged 18-34, 35-49, and 50-64 after experiencing tornadoes and the COVID-19 pandemic, and their advantages in mental health over people under 50 can be maintained over time. Taken together, this dissertation highlighted the unique strengths of older adults in disaster management with regard to COVID-19. Based on the findings, disaster-related practice and future research should consider age differences in disaster contexts and develop new disaster management frameworks for public health disasters.


Disaster management, COVID-19 pandemic, Older adults, Strengths perspective, Disaster social work


Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Work


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington

Included in

Social Work Commons