Consortium Research Results

Researchers with the Consortium for Resilient Gulf Communities have published several papers, reports, and articles as a result of their work with CRGC. We are pleased to share their research here.

Building Community Resilience to Large Oil Spills: Findings and Recommendations from a Synthesis of Research on the Mental Health, Economic, and Community Distress Associated with the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Melissa L. Finucane, Aaron Clark-Ginsberg, Andrew M. Parker, Alejandro U. Becerra-Ornelas, Noreen Clancy, Rajeev Ramchand, Tim Slack, Vanessa Parks, Lynsay Ayer, Amanda F. Edelman, Elizabeth L. Petrun Sayers, Shanthi Nataraj, Craig A. Bond, Amy E. Lesen, Regardt J. Ferreira, Leah Drakeford, Jacqueline Fiore, Margaret M. Weden, K. Brent Venable, A. Barrie Black

The 2010 Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill was the largest in U.S. history, releasing an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The scale of the disaster motivated diverse stakeholders to examine the human dimensions of the spill and how communities’ resilience to similar threats could be improved. This examination is needed because, as long as humans depend on extracting oil and gas for energy, coastal regions are at risk for spills. In this report, the authors explore how communities, government officials, nongovernmental organizations, businesses, and scientists can build community resilience to large oil spills. Researchers found mixed evidence of distress associated with the DWH disaster and a variety of factors that affected the nature and severity of people’s experiences.

RAND Research Report, July 2020

The Impact of the Deepwater Horizon Spill on Commercial Blue Crab Landings

Jacqueline Fiore, Craig A. Bond, Shanthi Nataraj

We examine the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on landings, revenues, and effort in the commercial blue crab fishery. A key contribution of our work is that it goes beyond simple pre-post analysis and uses a difference-in-differences method to identify the causal effects of the spill. We compare affected areas to two different counterfactuals—Atlantic states, as well as Louisiana basins that were less exposed to the spill—which essentially provides upper and lower bounds on the magnitude of the impact. When using the Atlantic as a counterfactual for the Gulf states, we find that the spill resulted in a 75–85 percent decrease in landings in the months immediately following the spill, followed by a relatively swift recovery. While there is some evidence of potential longer term impacts, we cannot estimate these effects precisely. Because of the potential for substitution between Gulf and Atlantic blue crab, we view these results as an upper bound on the true impact. When comparing Louisiana basins that were more versus less affected by the spill, we identify a 50 percent drop in blue crabbing trips in basins that were more affected following the spill; however, we find little impact on landings, likely because the spill and the resulting closures changed the relationship between effort (trips) and landings. Overall, our findings suggest that the Deepwater spill did result in substantial, short-term losses to the blue crab fishery, but that the fishery also exhibited a high degree of resilience and recovered quickly as soon as the closures were ended.

RAND Working Paper, February 2020

Persistent Risk-Related Worry as a Function of Recalled Exposure to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Prior Trauma

Andrew M Parker, Melissa L. Finucane, Lynsay Ayer, Rajeev Ramchand, Vanessa Parks, and Noreen Clancy

Large oil spills are disasters associated with psychological effects for exposed communities. This study examined the nature and predictors of worry about ongoing impacts of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon (DH) oil spill reported by Gulf of Mexico coastal residents. Controlling for sociodemographic characteristics, higher exposure to the DH oil spill was related to higher levels of worry about ongoing impacts, with past traumatic events related specifically to worry about health impacts. Unexpectedly, those who moved into the region after the spill showed similar levels of worry to residents exposed to the spill, and higher levels than residents who did not recall being exposed to the DH oil spill. This study highlights the impact of the DH oil spill on coastal residents many years after the DH disaster.

Risk Analysis, December 2019

On the Need for Prospective Disaster Survey Panels

Andrew M. Parker, Amanda F. Edelman, Katherine G. Carman, and Melissa L. Finucane

Disasters are typically unforeseen, causing most social and behavioral studies about disasters to be reactive. Occasionally, predisaster data are available, for example, when disasters happen while a study is already in progress or where data collected for other purposes already exist, but planned pre-post designs are all but nonexistent. This gap fundamentally limits the quantification of disasters’ human toll. Anticipating, responding to, and managing public reactions require a means of tracking and understanding those reactions, collected using rigorous scientific methods. Oftentimes, self-reports from the public are the best or only source of information, such as perceived risk, behavioral intentions, and social learning. Significant advancement in disaster research, to best inform practice and policy, requires well-designed surveys with large probability-based samples and longitudinal assessment of individuals across the life-cycle of a disaster and across multiple disasters.

Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, November 2019

Fishing Households, Social Support, and Depression after the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Vanessa Parks, Tim Slack, Rajeev Ramchand, Leah Drakeford, Melissa Finucane, and Matthew R. Lee

Using data from the Survey of Trauma, Resilience, and Opportunity in Neighborhoods in the Gulf (STRONG), researchers test how social support and ties to the fishing industry are related to the likelihood of a positive depression screen. The results show that, among most residents of the Gulf Coast region, social support holds an inverse relationship with the likelihood of a positive depression screen. However, among fishing households, greater social support is associated with a higher probability of screening positive for depression. By showing that fishing households with greater social support are more susceptible to depressive symptoms in this setting, the results uncover a potentially important mechanism that contributes to the unique vulnerability of fishers, which in turn holds implications for differential impacts across social groups in environmental disaster contexts.

Rural Sociology, August 2019

Reaching Vulnerable Populations in the Disaster-Prone U.S. Gulf Coast: Communicating Across the Crisis Lifecycle

Elizabeth L. Petrun Sayers, Andrew M. Parker, Rajeev Ramchand, Melissa L. Finucane, Vanessa Parks, Rachana Seelam

Delivering risk and crisis communication to US Gulf Coast residents poses a unique challenge to individual and organizational responders. Engaging in pre-crisis planning with vulnerable populations, and assessing response strategies, can help the region prepare for future disasters. Through a survey of 2,520 adults in the Gulf Coast, the authors examine how demographic characteristics affect communication channel preferences and trust in sources.

Journal of Emergency Management, August 2019

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

Ramchand, R., Seelam, R., Parks, V., Ghosh-Dastidar, B., Lee, M., Finucane, M.

To assess the long-term mental and behavioral health outcomes of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill of residents in the Gulf Coast and to identify populations that may be particularly vulnerable to future disasters, researchers analyzed responses to the Survey of Trauma, Resilience, and Opportunity in Neighborhoods in the Gulf (STRONG), a population-representative sample of 2520 coastal residents surveyed in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida in 2016. They concluded that this data 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.

Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, June 2019

Oil Spill Disruption and Problem Drinking: Assessing the Impact of Religious Context among Gulf Coast Residents

Leah Drakeford, Vanessa Parks, Tim Slack, Rajeev Ramchand, Melissa Finucane, Matthew R. Lee

While a wide body of research has indicated that social resources may be enhanced through religious practice, few studies have explored how social resources are impacted by the intersection of the social and individual domains of religion. Using data from the recently conducted Survey of Trauma, Resilience, and Opportunity among Neighborhoods in the Gulf, this study employs multilevel analysis to examine the impact of religious context on alcohol misuse among individuals impacted by the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Our findings indicate that residence in areas that have high levels of religious concentration may magnify the risk of problem drinking among disaster-affected individuals for whom religion is not very salient, suggesting that religious context may influence the distribution of social resources differently between the religious and irreligious.

Population Research and Policy Review, March 2019

Advancing community resilience research and practice: moving from “me” to “we” to “3D”

Melissa L. Finucane, Michael J. Blum, Rajeev Ramchand, Andrew M. Parker, Shanthi Nataraj, Noreen Clancy, Gary Cecchine, Anita Chandra, Tim Slack, George Hobor, Regardt J. Ferreira, Ky Luu, Amy E. Lesen, Craig A. Bond

Research and practice aimed at enhancing community resilience to disasters such as hurricanes have focused primarily on the survival of individuals and the development of social capital and networks. Less consideration has been given to the dynamics of social-ecological conditions that can govern post-disaster outcomes. This article provides a rationale for moving research and practice towards an adaptive systems framework, drawing on the cascading challenges that Gulf of Mexico coastal communities have endured since the 2010 Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill.

Journal of Risk Research, January 2019

‘Come Back At Us:’ Reflections on Researcher-Community Partnerships During a Post-Oil Spill Gulf Coast Resilience Study

Lesen, AE, Tucker C, Olson, MG, Ferreira RJ

Several community partner organizations facilitated and hosted data collection for an in-person mixed-methods survey about disaster resilience and preparedness in three communities on the U.S. Gulf Coast impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and numerous disasters from natural hazards. We submit our analysis of these Follow-up interviews with these partner organizations resulted in recommendations for future community-engaged research practices, particularly in the field of environmental and disaster resilience. Input from community partners stressed the importance of engaging with local community brokers to enhance trust in research; researcher-partner communication; and researcher interaction with community residents that respects local knowledge and culture. The partners indicated that even communities that have often been the subjects of post-disaster studies are receptive to research participation, especially when the effects of disasters are long-term and ongoing.

Social Sciences, January 2019

Resilience: Examining the Impacts of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on the Gulf Coast Vietnamese American Community

Patel, M., Saltzman, L., Ferreira, R., Lesen, A.

The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill (DWH) was one of the largest hydrocarbon disasters in US history. The estimated 5 million barrels of oil that poured into the Gulf of Mexico had a devastating impact on the natural environment, as well as on the livelihoods of communities residing along the coastal region. This paper explores resilience in individuals that identify as Vietnamese, presenting findings from a study of three Gulf Coast communities impacted by the DWH oil spill.

Social Sciences, October 2018

Behavioral health of Gulf Coast residents six years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill: the role of trauma history

Ayer, L., Engel, C., Parker, A., Seelam, R., Ramchand, R.

To examine the associations between oil spill exposure, trauma history, and behavioral health 6 years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill (DHOS), researchers used data from the Survey of Trauma, Resilience, and Opportunity in Neighborhoods in the Gulf (STRONG), a population-representative sample of 2520 coastal residents surveyed in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida in 2016. They found that individuals with more traumatic experiences had a significantly higher risk for all measured behavioral health problems after controlling for demographic factors and DHOS exposure. Those with higher levels of DHOS exposure were not at greater risk for behavioral health problems after controlling for prior trauma, with the exception of illness anxiety. There was no evidence that trauma history moderated the association between DHOS exposure and behavioral health.

Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, September 2018

Training Community Health Workers to Enhance Disaster Resilience

Nicholls, K., Picou, S. J., & McCord, S. C.

Community health workers (CHWs) have significant potential to contribute to public health in the United States by promoting disaster preparedness, speeding postdisaster recovery, and building disaster resilience in their communities. To maximize this potential, however, they must undergo rigorous and relevant training. As part of the Gulf Region Health Outreach Program, an appropriate curriculum was developed and delivered in several training sessions conducted from 2013 to 2016. This article provides insights into the primary issues associated with such training and offers a detailed elaboration of the basic and specialized curricula as presented and adapted over the course of the program.

Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, November 2017

Estimating the effects of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on fisheries landings: A preliminary exploration

Fiore, J., Bond, C., Nataraj, S.

What were the direct impacts of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon (DH) oil spill 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.

RAND Corporation Working Paper WR-1173-GMA, January 2017

Environmental Stress and Health

Picou, J.S.; Nicholls, K.l;  Guski, K.

This article examines the relationship of environmental stress to disturbances in behavior, mental health functioning, and public health for people impacted by a variety of ecosystem disruptions. Extreme environmental stress in the form of catastrophic natural and technological disasters seriously undermines the human condition and quality of life in the modern world. We briefly identify the context of contemporary risk and review the health consequences of extreme environmental stress.

International Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Second Edition, December 2015

Project Summaries

The Consortium has developed several summary documents (PDFs) to share at conferences and other events. Click on the links below to download any of these summaries.