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

Overlapping Environmental Disasters Put a Strain on Gulf Communities


Recent news suggests that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill will soon be eclipsed by the millions of barrels of oil leaking from the Taylor Energy platform since 2004. The Coast Guard this week ordered Taylor to contain the mess, or face massive fines. But cleanup alone may not fully mitigate the damage and effects may linger, as they did after the Deepwater Horizon spill, writes CRGC director Melissa Finucane. Read more »

CRGC Researchers Present Findings on Exposure to Disasters in the Gulf States and Long-Term Mental and Behavioral Health Outcomes

The Natural Hazards Center, in partnership with the International Research Committee on Disasters (IRCD), and with funding from the National Science Foundation, convened its 2018 Researchers Meeting in Broomfield, Colorado on July 11 and July 12, 2018, which focused on improving rapid reconnaissance research and featured sessions designed to identify pressing research needs, better coordinate researchers and research teams, and improve data collection, sharing, and archiving. This year’s meeting, designed to convene researchers across disciplines, who recently received National Science Foundation RAPID grants, as well as those who have ongoing hazards and disaster related research projects, featured the Consortium for Resilient Gulf Communities’ (CRGC) recent findings related to exposure to disasters in the Gulf States and long-term mental and behavioral health outcomes. Read more »

Tulane’s Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy Hosts: Leadership in Peacetime and Crisis

Major General Michael Regner (Image provided by DRLA)[/caption] On Saturday, December 2nd, Tulane’s Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy (DRLA) will welcome Major General Michael Regner, who will present Leadership in Peacetime and Crisis. Major General Regner will discuss topics including: (1) Resiliency in Peacetime and Crisis; (2) Crisis Communication; (3) Casualties – Civilians and Military Members; (4) Humanitarian Assistance and Cultural Awareness; and (5) Designing Your Leadership Philosophy. Learn more»

CRGC’s Drs. Finucane and Nicholls Contribute to National Academies Workshop on Preparing for a Rapid Response to Major Marine Oil Spills: Protecting and Assessing the Health and Well-Being of Communities

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recently released
Proceedings of the Workshop— in Brief, chronicling the presentations and discussions from Preparing for a Rapid Response to Major Offshore Oil Spills: A Workshop on Research Needs to Protect the Health and Well-Being of Communities. The two-day workshop, which Drs. Finucane and Nicholls participated in Aug 2-3 in Washington D.C., was organized by an ad hoc committee to facilitate cross-sector, transdiciplinary discussions around research needs and other opportunities for improving public health preparedness, response, and protection related to oil spills. Learn more»

CRGC Director, Dr. Melissa Finucane, Shares Updates on Consortium’s Work & Research Findings

At this year’s Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science Conference, The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) interviewed Dr. Melissa Finucane– Senior Social and Behavioral Scientist at the RAND Corporation and Director of The Consortium for Resilient Gulf Communities- about CRGC’s latest research findings and progress assessing and addressing the impacts of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the health, social, and economic wellbeing of people in the Gulf Coast region. Finucane speaks to CRGC’s research, outreach, and education initiatives, which are aimed at helping communities across the Gulf Coast to more effectively understand, withstand, and overcome the multiple stressors brought on by such disasters. Learn more>>

Reliable Data: The Most Empowering Tool for Hurricane Recovery

Accessibility to transparent, up to date data has proven to play a critical role in both individual- and community-level capacity to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disaster events, such as a hurricanes— Something that was especially evident following Hurricane Katrina. Denice W. Ross, a Public Interest Technology Fellow at New America and a co-founder of the Obama administration’s Police Data Initiative, spent more than a decade in New Orleans building community capacity to use government data and is continuing to broaden her work in the “open data” space by aggregating high-value data sets that can aid communities impacted by disaster. Learn more>>

Lead

Andrew Parker, Ph.D.

Senior Behavioral & Social Scientist

RAND Corporation

Andrew Parker

Andrew M. Parker is director of the Center for Decision Making under Uncertainty, a senior behavioral and social scientist at the RAND Corporation, and a member of the Pardee RAND Graduate School faculty. His research applies core concepts in behavioral decision research to the understanding of decisions in complex, real-world situations.

Co-Lead

Lynsay Ayer, Ph.D.

Senior Behavioral & Social Scientist

RAND Corporation

Lynsay Ayer

Lynsay Ayer is a behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation. Her primary research interests are in the areas of trauma/violence and mental health. She is particularly interested in identifying ways to improve trauma and mental health services for vulnerable and underserved populations.

Fellow

Vanessa Parks

Post-Doctoral Fellow

University of Mississippi

Former Grad Student and Research Assistant

Louisiana State University

Vanessa Parks

Vanessa Parks recently graduated from Louisiana State University and is now a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Missisippi. 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.