Norwegian version

Disability and Disease during the 1918 Influenza Pandemic: Implications for Preparedness Policies

A global influenza pandemic is imminent and public health preparedness plans that address the needs of vulnerable populations are indispensable. While researchers have documented socioeconomic and geographic variables that contribute to disparities in infection and mortality, there has been little to no investigation of disability as a risk factor during influenza pandemics, despite the warnings of epidemiologists that persons with disabilities would be at increased risk.

Drawing on rich historical data from the 1918 influenza pandemic, this project addresses this gap through a novel interdisciplinary and mixed methods approach. Quantitative and qualitative analyses will explore differential outcomes based on forms of disability and institutionalisation. Results of demographic analyses and insights from archival, historical, and ethnographic literature will inform the construction of an agent-based computer simulation model that will help explain observed patterns and evaluate the effectiveness of potential interventions.

A short visit will enable regional comparisons between Norway and Sweden and enhance theoretical and methodological links between epidemiological and disability research. The fellow will benefit from the expertise of a European centre of excellent research, the Centre for Welfare and Labour Research, at Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway.

Building on the fellow’s previous work and skills in both epidemic modelling and disability research, the project activities will lead to further development of the fellow’s professional maturity, while the results will have a key impact on the advancement of multiple academic disciplines, and as called for in EU and UN policies, on the improvement of the citizen rights and health of persons with disabilities.

  • Participants at OsloMet

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