close Icon

COVID-19 disaster recovery capitals: A conceptual framework to guide holistic and strengths-based support strategies

Quinn P, Munari S, Block K, Walker S, Liberman J, Wallace J, Horyniak D, Oliver J, Hellard M, Fletcher-Lartey S, Gibbs L

  • Journal Health Promotion Journal of Australia

  • Published 22 Jun 2023

  • ISSUE Epub ahead of print

  • DOI


Issue addressed: The COVID-19 pandemic bears many similarities to other disasters such as bushfires, earthquakes and floods. It also has distinctive features including its prolonged and recurrent nature and the social isolation induced by pandemic responses. Existing conceptual frameworks previously applied to the study of disaster, such as the Recovery Capitals Framework (RCF), may be useful in understanding experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic and in guiding agencies and governments tasked with supporting communities.

Methods: This paper presents an analysis of interviews conducted with residents of the Australian state of Victoria in 2020-2021. The RCF was used to analyse how participant experiences and well-being were influenced by seven forms of capital-social, human, natural, financial, built, cultural and political-with particular focus on the interactions between these capitals.

Results: Social capital featured most prominently in participants' accounts, yet the analysis revealed important interactions between social and other capitals that shaped their pandemic experiences. The RCF supported a strengths-based and holistic analysis while also revealing how inequities and challenges were compounded in some cases.

Conclusions: Findings can be leveraged to develop effective and innovative strategies to support well-being and disrupt patterns of compounding inequity. Applying the RCF in the context of COVID-19 can help to link pandemic research with research from a wide range of disasters. SO WHAT?: In an increasingly complex global landscape of cascading and intersecting disasters including pandemics, flexible and nuanced conceptual approaches such as the RCF can generate valuable insights with practical implications for health promotion efforts.

Keywords: health equity; qualitative methods; social capital; social determinants; social support.