About the Project

Welcome to the web site for the project, “Disability and Disease during the 1918 Influenza Pandemic: Implications for Preparedness Policies (#DIS2)”. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 841925.

Please contact me with any questions, suggestions, concerns or other feedback regarding the project or accessibility issues with the web site. My email is jessicad@oslomet.no

Project Abstract:

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.

Plain language version:

A pandemic is when a disease like flu spreads to many countries in a short time.

Many people who study flu think that a pandemic will happen again in the future.

Some people might be more likely to get sick or die during a pandemic than other people.
Examples include very old people, poor people, or people who already have other health conditions.

People with disabilities might be at risk too.

My study will use records from a flu pandemic that happened in 1918.
Most records will be from Norway.

I will find out if people with disabilities got sick or died more than other people.
For example, I will compare people with different kinds of disabilities.

I also will make a computer program.
The computer program will test ideas about how to stop flu from spreading in places like hospitals and schools for people with disabilities.

This project will:

Help protect people with disabilities during future pandemics.

Help me learn new skills and ideas.