Assessing the Health, Social, and Economic Wellbeing of Gulf Coastal Communities

The Health subteam began its work by conducting a systematic review of published health effects of oil spills and created a dynamic, searchable database of relevant literature. The database provides a clearinghouse for practitioners and researchers searching for relevant papers and reports on oil spill-health impacts. Of the 75 papers reviewed, 38 were published during or after 2010 and related to the DWH oil spill. To learn more, view CRGC’s Overview of the Health Literature Search and Database. To download the searchable database, please visit CRGC’s Resources Page.

What Were Our Findings?

A worker cleans up oily waste on Elmer's Island, just west of Grand Isle, La., May 21, 2010. Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Patrick Kelley/Flickr

Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Patrick Kelley/FlickrA worker cleans up oily waste on Elmer’s Island, just west of Grand Isle, Louisiana

  • Medium and Long-Term Effects Need Analysis: Research teams, collecting data less than a year after the DWH oil spill, published in 21 papers. Many of these studies find initial health and social well-being issues emerging after the oil spill, but continued efforts are needed to determine the medium and long-term effects.
  • Multi-Organizational and Interdisciplinary Approaches are Valued: Many papers indicate that they are part of larger research efforts, which include multiple research institutions and disciplinary perspectives.
  • Vulnerable Populations are Diverse: Researchers have focused on vulnerable populations, including the Vietnamese fishing population, residents seeking mental health treatment, renewable resource communities, women, and children.
  • Knowledge Gaps Still Remain: Since the 2010 DWH oil spill, researchers have addressed recommendations in diverse ways, but some gaps still remain. We identified opportunities for research to inform the development of the Survey of Trauma, Resilience, and Opportunity of Neighborhoods in the Gulf (STRONG).

What is the Current Mental Health and Social Wellbeing of Gulf Coastal Residents?

We administered the STRONG questionnaire to 2,520 respondents via a random digit dial landline and cell phone survey (April-August, 2016) in the 56 coastal counties and parishes in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. The questionnaire included measures of:
    • Health: Physical, Mental, and Behavioral Health; Trauma History; Healthcare Utilization
    • Exposure to the DWH Oil Spill: Clean-Up Activities; Damaged Property; Damaged Commercial Fisheries; Impact to Recreational Activities and/or Diet; Employment in Affected Industries
    • Networked Adaptive Capacities: Social Capital; Community Competence; Information and Communication; Economic Development

Does Wellbeing Vary with Reported Exposure or Impact by County/Parish?

What are our Next Steps?

Data have been cleaned, post-stratification weights have been created to ensure results are representative of the region, and variables with missing values have been imputed. Analyses are currently underway for multiple peer-reviewed papers on:
  • Predictors of mental and behavioral health outcomes, with state-specific estimates.
  • Worry about ongoing impacts as a function of recalled exposure and past victimization.
  • Communication source preferences and trust in media.
  • Impacts of the composition and structure of social networks on resilience. 

Related News

Local Shipbuilders from Alabama and Louisiana Supply Passenger Vessels for NYC’s New Citywide Ferry Service

The H200, a catamaran passenger vessel built by Horizon Shipbuilding based out of Bayou La Batre, Alabama, began its 1,700-mile voyage to New York City on March 21. The vessel is the first of 13 catamaran passenger vessels Horizon is building for the Big Apple’s new citywide ferry service. By 2018, Horizon, along with Metal Shark – a Louisiana based shipbuilder that recently saw two of its ferries off to NYC – will have built 19 ferries for NYC’s new fleet. Learn more »

GoMRI eNews: March 21, 2017 Edition

Check out the latest edition of GoMRI’s eNews, which keeps researchers, students, community members, and other stakeholders working in the field current on emerging Gulf science and the people investigating the effects of oil spills on the environment and public health. This edition of eNews features, CRGC’s Student Spotlight of Nicholas Thomas, in the Project Activities section! Learn more »

Estimating the Effects of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on Fisheries Landings

CRGC team members Dr. Craig Bond, Dr. Shanthi Nataraj, and Ms. Jacqueline Fiore just published preliminary results on the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill’s impact on the Gulf fisheries industry. This paper reports results from an ex-post analysis of the spill using publicly available, routinely collected data on landings, revenues, and fishing effort for select fish species in the Gulf. The research team’s methods examine the overall impact of the oil spill as well as changes that occurred over time. Learn more »

Shipbuilders in AL and LA Expand Operations to Deliver New Fleet of Passenger Ferries for New York City

horizonHorizon Shipbuilders, based out of Bayou La Batre, AL, and Metal Shark, a boatbuilder located in Franklin, LA, are rapidly working to build boats for an ambitious citywide ferry service that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has pledged to begin next summer. Horizon and Metal Shark are working on a tight schedule to build the 19 vessels needed for Mayor de Blasio’s $325-million citywide ferry service, timed to begin as he seeks re-election for office next November. This new ferry service would be the most extensive of its kind in any American city.

Learn more »

Lead

Matthew R. Lee, Ph.D.

Professor and Senior Associate Vice Chancellor

Louisiana State University

Matthew Lee

Matthew R. Lee is a professor of sociology and senior associate vice chancellor of the Office of Research and Economic Development at Louisiana State University. His research and teaching interests are in the areas of criminal violence and public health. Lee also is co-founder and co-coordinator of CAPER, the Crime and Policy Evaluation Research group at LSU.

Co-Lead

Rajeev Ramchand, Ph.D.

Senior Behavioral and Social Scientist

RAND Corporation

Rajeev Ramchand

Rajeev Ramchand is a senior behavioral and social scientist at the RAND Corporation. His research focuses on four areas: (1) psychosocial risk factors for adolescent delinquency (e.g., substance use, criminal offending); (2) consequences of substance use from both criminal justice and treatment perspectives; (3) the epidemiology of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and co-occurring conditions; and (4) the mental health of servicemembers, particularly those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Graduate Student

Vanessa Parks

Graduate Student and Research Assistant

Louisiana State University

Vanessa Parks

Vanessa Parks is a graduate student and research assistant at Louisiana State University. Her research interests include disaster resilience, health disparities, environmental sociology, and community development. She specializes in interdisciplinary health research, and she has participated in a number of needs assessments in vulnerable communities and several program evaluations related to health and education policies.