Changes in the social relationships of individuals with disabilities displaced by disaster
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The role of social relationships, social networks, and social support in disaster contexts has been investigated extensively. However, few studies have examined how social relationships, networks, and support change for people with disabilities affected by disaster. Thirty-nine people with disabilities displaced by Hurricane Katrina were interviewed about their long-term recovery experiences three years following the disaster. Results were analyzed using grounded theory methodology. Additional analysis of the category of social relationships revealed six underlying properties; 1) proximity to others, 2) frequency of social interactions, 3) diversity of relationships, 4) intimacy with neighbors, 5) cohesion with family, and 6) formality of relationships. Findings suggest that perceived quality of life diminished post-disaster due to the loss of social networks and belongingness, rather than to a diminishment in perceived instrumental support.