Millions of dollars have been spent improving the public health system's bioterrorism response capabilities. Yet relatively little attention has been paid to precisely how the public will respond to bioterrorism and how emotional and behavioral responses might complicate an otherwise successful response. This article synthesizes the available evidence about the likely emotional and behavioral consequences of bioterrorism to suggest what decision makers can do now to improve that response. It examines the emotional and behavioral impact of previous bioterrorism-like events and summarizes interviews with experts who have responded to such events or conducted research on the effects of communitywide disasters. The article concludes by reflecting on the evidence and experts' perspectives to suggest actions to be taken now and future policy and research priorities.
This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.
Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/principles.
The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.