There is "lasting mistrust" between communities in Cumbria and the government, over the handling of the foot-and-mouth epidemic, new research says.
Millions of animals were culled during the epidemic
The study carried out over the past year, also recommends the early creation of "citizen panels" in the event of a similar disaster.
A team of specialists, headed by former North Cumbria public health boss Peter Tiplady, is presenting the initial findings of the study to a conference in Carlisle.
Cumbria was worst-hit by the foot-and-mouth outbreak, which began in February 2001.
Tens of thousands of animals were destroyed and millions of pounds of tourism revenue was lost during the epidemic.
Mr Tiplady said: "There was a very serious lack of understanding as what effect this was having on people.
"We found an almost complete breakdown of trust between people in the affected areas and statutory agencies.
"Our research has been going on for over a year and this mistrust is still there and is still very deep.
"Without trust in the people who are supposed to be helping you, recovery is that much more difficult."
Mr Tiplady also said he would be recommending to the government that so-called citizen panels are quickly set up should any similar disaster strike again.
He said: "We have discovered in talking to the people who were affected by the outbreak, just how much they could have contributed to the recovery process.
"They were able to identify much more subtle problems affecting communities that were not being addressed by the recovery packages.
"Most of the effort was being put into keeping roads closed and disposing of dead animals.
"But what is clear now is that there were many more complicated issues like relationship problems.
"This was partly due to the fact that communities were effectively cut off and partly because of the very traumatic circumstances in which people found themselves."
Mr Tiplady said research will continue into next year, with a final report submitted to the government, local authorities and other agencies involved in the aftermath of the outbreak.