Individuals with Chronic Health Needs

Half of the adults in the U.S. have at least one chronic condition, such as diabetes, heart disease, or obesity. A chronic illness is defined as a condition that can last a year or longer and will limit activity. These conditions may be unstable, terminal or contagious that require ongoing care. Some of these conditions often rely on medication or electricity. About one fourth of people in the U.S. have multiple chronic conditions. 11.2 million U.S. adults have experienced a serious mental illness such as bipolar disorder, major depression or schizophrenia. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) Disaster Technical Assistance Center provides specialized strategies for disaster preparedness to help states, territories, tribes, and local entities to deliver an effective mental health and substance abuse response disasters.1


Communication Planning for Individuals with Chronic Health Needs from CDC’s Access and Functional Needs Toolkit Integrating a Community Partner Network to Inform Risk Communication Strategies:1

  • Develop communication strategies with partners for individuals who rely on electricity-dependent medical devices on a power outage.
  • Develop strategies with partners to address limited or no access to medical support, treatment services, and medications.
  • Consider the chronic condition management information needs of individuals displaced or relocated and those unable to temporarily return home.
  • Develop strategies and resources, like telemedicine access, for remote patient monitoring during disasters.
  • Provide messages to the public about maintaining copies of medical records and up-to-date medication lists.
  • Regularly update lists of individuals who rely on electricity-dependent medical or assistive equipment and cardiac devices.
  • Develop strategies and plans with home-based primary care providers and other home health programs to disseminate emergency information.
  • Encourage backup battery supplies for electricity-dependent assistive technology and medical devices.
  • Disseminate information about where to access medical supplies.


1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2021). Access and Functional Needs Toolkit: Integrating a Community Partner Network to Inform Risk Communication Strategies. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).