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UNCP professor to take part in study of hurricane-affected residents

Ashley Allen
Dr. Ashley Batts Allen

Researchers at The University of North Carolina Pembroke, East Carolina University, and the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs will undertake a longitudinal study of hurricane-affected residents of four rural North Carolina counties thanks to a nearly $200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.

The REACH study seeks to survey 300 hurricane-affected individuals residing in Bladen, Columbus, Robeson, and Scotland counties regarding their adjustment, coping, and social support over the course of six months. Study participants will complete online surveys as well as brief daily questions about how they are managing hurricane-related stress using an app on their phone.

The study will be conducted by Drs. Ashley Batts Allen at UNC Pembroke, Heather Littleton at East Carolina University, and Charles Benight at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs.

“Part of UNC Pembroke’s mission is to serve the local community especially in times of distress. With two catastrophic hurricanes in our recent past, this grant aims to evaluate daily shifts in adjustment and coping,” said Allen, assistant professor of psychology and a principal investigator on the grant.

“This grant will examine factors impacting post-hurricane adjustment and lay the groundwork for individual and community-based interventions for those residing in disaster-affected areas, particularly rural communities.”

The study will evaluate a new theoretical model of adjustment that examines the ways in which individuals’ adjustment following highly stressful and traumatic events can change over time. Presentations will be made to affected communities to help them in best assisting residents experiencing long-term stress after Hurricane Florence. Information about the study is available at