Disaster risk reduction considerations for big bodied people in Aotearoa New Zealand : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Emergency Management at Massey University, Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand

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Massey University
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Big bodied people have been left behind in disasters and are conspicuously absent in disaster risk reduction planning, policies and practices. This exploratory study addresses the needs and considerations of big bodied people relating to disaster risk reduction. Aotearoa New Zealand is well suited as the setting for this study with the experience of a wide range of natural hazards and recent, significant disasters, and importantly in relation to body size demographics, having very high population levels of body mass. There is a dearth of research on this topic. Descriptive qualitative methodology was applied, framed by a pragmatic worldview in order to build knowledge from the perspectives and experiences of 55 emergency managers and 17 people identifying as big bodied. These were explored through an online survey and semi-structured interviews. Descriptive and reflexive thematic analysis of the data were undertaken. The research findings, presented in three publications, highlight the complexities of disaster risk reduction for big bodied people and emergency managers. A number of assumptions and expectations were identified that may explain why there has been scant, if any, consideration of the needs of BBP in a disaster particular to size, shape and weight. The study outcomes support the prospect of ‘triple jeopardy’ for big bodied people through the intersection of discrimination, stigma and bias alongside social determinants of health and disaster vulnerability factors. Importantly, this study amplifies the voices of big bodied people, so often excluded, silenced or invisible in research. To meet the United Nation's Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030 requirement for ‘all-of-society engagement and partnership’, the conceptualisation of vulnerability must be widened to include size, shape and weight. Further empirical research and strong advocacy are required to ensure that big bodied people and emergency managers are well supported in preparedness planning and to ensure the needs of big bodied people are included in national and international in future disaster planning, policies and practices.
Listed in 2023 Dean's List of Exceptional Theses
Hazard mitigation, Emergency management, Overweight persons, New Zealand, Dean's List of Exceptional Theses