Exposure to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, Associated Resource Loss, and Long-Term Mental and Behavioral Outcomes


Objective

The aim of this study was to (1) assess the long-term mental and behavioral health outcomes of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill of residents in the Gulf Coast and to (2) identify populations that may be particularly vulnerable to future disasters.

Methods

The Survey of Trauma, Resilience, and Opportunity in Neighborhoods in the Gulf (STRONG) is a population-representative sample of 2520 coastal residents surveyed in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida in 2016. We present prevalence estimates for positive screens of depression, anxiety, and alcohol misuse, as well as receipt of health care services. We examine differences in these outcomes across states, affected occupational groups, and demographic groups.

Results

Resource loss attributed to the spill was associated with positive screens for depression and anxiety. Almost 50% of adults screened positive for depression, anxiety, or alcohol misuse, but less than 20% of these currently access mental health care. Black residents were less likely to have health insurance and a usual source of care but were more likely to have visited the emergency room in the past 12 months.

Conclusions

Surveillance data from STRONG can help policy-makers and other stakeholders develop targeted approaches to foster resilience, particularly among vulnerable populations, and thereby mitigate the effects of future disasters.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation external publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND’s publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.

Leave a Comment

Participate in relief program
%d bloggers like this: