Provision of social support by mayors in times of crisis: a cross-sectional study among Dutch mayors
European Journal of Psychotraumatology
Wouter Jong, Michel L. A. Dückers & Peter G. van der Velden
Background: During times of crisis, mayors may play an important role as public leaders and providers of social support to affected residents. However, empirical studies have not yet been conducted among the involved mayors about the support they provide and the factors associated with it.
Objective: The aim is to examine the support the mayors provided to the affected residents during crises and to test the possible determinants of this support.
Method: A web-based survey developed for this study, including a modified version of the Social Support Survey, was filled by 266 Dutch mayors (response = 66.5%), of whom 231 were involved in at least one crisis in their community in the past five years. We examined the association between the perceived support provided by the mayors and their years of experience, demographics, municipality size, and assessment of the collective impact of the crisis and their own political responsibility. Moreover, we tested the probability of mayoral home visits based on the same factors as well as loss of life.
Results: All of the involved Dutch mayors reported providing support, which varied from lending a listening ear to discussing public ceremonies and remembrances with the affected and their families. The mayors’ age, sex, municipality size, and years of experience were not significantly related to the perceived social support provision or willingness to reach out to affected citizens. Apart from fatalities linked to the crisis, none of the factors tested had a significant effect on the probability of mayors making home visits.
Conclusion: Mayors are likely to report positively on how they provided social support to residents during crises regardless of the factors considered. Mayors are most likely to conduct home visits in situations where one or more citizens died. Further validation and replication of the social support measurement instrument is needed.