Public Policy Center, University of Nebraska


Date of this Version



Brown, L.M., Hyer, K. Psychological First Aid: Field Operations Guide for Nursing Homes, April, 2008. Available on:


Copyright © 2008 Lisa M. Brown and Kathryn Hyer.


Psychological First Aid is an evidence-informed1 modular approach to help elderly persons and persons with disabilities in nursing homes, other adults, families, adolescents and children in the immediate aftermath of disaster and terrorism. Psychological First Aid is designed to reduce the initial distress caused by traumatic events and to foster short- and long-term adaptive functioning and coping. Principles and techniques of Psychological First Aid meet four basic standards. They are: 1. Consistent with research on risk and resilience following trauma 2. Applicable and practical in field settings 3. Appropriate for developmental levels across the lifespan 4. Culturally informed and delivered in a flexible manner Psychological First Aid does not assume that all disaster survivors will develop severe mental health problems or long-term difficulties in recovery. Instead, it is based on an understanding that disaster survivors and others affected by such events will experience a broad range of early reactions (e.g., physical, psychological, behavioral, spiritual). Some of these reactions will cause enough distress to interfere with adaptive coping, and recovery may be helped by support from compassionate and caring nursing home staff who are responsible for resident care during a disaster.