Prehospital and Disaster Medicine

Comprehensive Review

Clinical Skill and Knowledge Requirements of Health Care Providers Caring for Children in Disaster, Humanitarian and Civic Assistance Operations: An Integrative Review of the Literature

Heather L. Johnsona1 c1, Susan W. Gaskinsa2 and Diane C. Seiberta1

a1 The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Graduate School of Nursing, Bethesda, Maryland USA

a2 The University of Alabama, Capstone College of Nursing, Tuscaloosa, Alabama USA


Introduction Military health care providers (HCPs) have an integral role during disaster, humanitarian, and civic assistance (DHCA) missions. Since 50% of patients seen in these settings are children, military providers must be prepared to deliver this care.

Purpose The purpose of this systematic, integrative review of the literature was to describe the knowledge and clinical skills military health care providers need in order to provide care for pediatric outpatients during DHCA operations.

Data Sources A systematic search protocol was developed in conjunction with a research librarian. Searches of PubMed and CINAHL were conducted using terms such as Disaster*, Geological Processes, and Military Personnel. Thirty-one articles were included from database and manual searches.

Conclusions Infectious diseases, vaccines, malnutrition, sanitation and wound care were among the most frequently mentioned of the 49 themes emerging from the literature. Concepts included endemic, environmental, vector-borne and vaccine-preventable diseases; enhanced pediatric primary care; and skills and knowledge specific to disaster, humanitarian and civic assistance operations.

Implications for Practice The information provided is a critical step in developing curriculum specific to caring for children in DHCA. While the focus was military HCPs, the knowledge is easily translated to civilian HCPs who provide care to children in these situations.

HL Johnson, SW Gaskins, DC Seibert. Clinical skill and knowledge requirements of health care providers caring for children in disaster, humanitarian and civic assistance operations: an integrative review of the literature. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2013;28(1):1-8.

(Received June 18 2012)

(Accepted September 23 2012)

(Online publication November 14 2012)


  • children;
  • clinical skill;
  • disaster;
  • humanitarian;
  • military


  • CBRNE:chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosives;
  • CINAHL:Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature;
  • CSHCN:children with special health care needs;
  • DHCA:disaster, humanitarian and civic assistance;
  • DoD:Department of Defense;
  • G6PD:Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase (G6PD);
  • HCP:health care provider;
  • IOM:Institute of Medicine;
  • IOS:Identifying, Organizing, and Synthesizing;
  • IV:intravenous;
  • RCT:randomized, controlled trials;
  • USUHS:Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences


c1 Correspondence: Lt Col Heather L. Johnson Graduate School of Nursing The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences 4301 Jones Bridge Rd. Bethesda, MD 20814 USA E-mail


  Conflicts of interest: The authors report no conflicts of interest.