Healthcare relief teams dispatched to rural areas often face difficulties due to limited initial and ongoing health information in the affected community. The present study investigated patterns of healthcare service demand for a rural displaced population in a post-disaster situation. Three weeks after the 2014 Ludian County earthquake, the Institute for Disaster Management and Reconstruction (IDMR) at Sichuan University and Hong Kong Polytechnic University organized a disaster nursing team to support the rural community in Longtoushan, at the epicenter of the earthquake. A cross-sectional, records-based study of 2484 records obtained from a temporary hospital in Longtoushan (for the period of 14 September–1 October 2014) was conducted. The daily number of records by patients’ sociodemographic characteristics and medical diagnoses were plotted on a time series graph to explore the temporal change during the study period. Findings indicate that healthcare service demand from younger age groups was higher than that of the older adult group. Three major health problems were observed: respiratory disease, skin problems, and ear, eye, and throat (EET) problems. All of these very real health problems are chronic issues that require long-term care. They are not health issues directly related to the disaster emergency itself. Yet disaster relief nursing teams were selected on the basis of their ability to cope primarily with traumatic disaster-related injuries. The existing practice of teaming up disaster relief professions might not be optimal. To better understand the healthcare needs of a displaced population, short- and long-term planning is needed. Planning will allow disaster response professionals to better organize and deploy healthcare personnel to manage the above-listed problems in a post-disaster situation.
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