Spirituality, Humor, and Resilience After Natural and Technological Disasters


coping with humor, Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, natural and technological disasters, resilience, spiritual support


Purpose: Multiple exposures to disaster are associated with high levels of stress and with long‐term consequences for survivors. However, little is known about coping and resilience in multiple disaster contexts. In this study, we focused on spiritual and secular coping resources and the roles they may play in postdisaster resilience.

Methods: Participants were noncoastal and coastal residents exposed to the 2005 Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Psychosocial predictors of central interest were (a) spiritual support and (b) use of coping through humor, and both were hypothesized to be associated with resilience. Covariates included group, gender, education, income, social engagement, charitable work done for others, and lifetime trauma.

Findings: Logistic regression analyses confirmed that spiritual support (odds ratio [OR] = 1.11, p ≤ .01) and use of coping through humor (OR = 1.17, p ≤ .01) were independently and positively associated with resilience. Disruption in charitable work done for others in a typical year before the hurricanes (OR = 0.49, p ≤ .05) and income of less than $2,000 per month were negatively associated with resilience (OR = 0.47, p ≤ .05).

Conclusions: These data show that spirituality, humor, disruptions in charitable work, and low income were all independently associated with resilience in the years after consecutive disasters.

Clinical Relevance: Experiencing one or more disasters can create chronic psychosocial stress in an individual, which is associated with long‐term health effects such as inflammation and weakened immune function. Recognizing which coping resources bolster resilience rather than harm is important for improving quality of life in disaster victims.

Original Publication Citation

Cherry, K. E., Sampson, L., Galea, S., Marks, L. D., *Stanko, K. E., Nezat, P. F., & Baudoin, K. H. (2018). Spirituality, humor, and resilience after natural and technological disasters. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 50, 492-501.

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Peer-Reviewed Article

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Journal of Nursing Scholarship




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor