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J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2015, 3(4), 1260-1271;

Longer-Term Mental and Behavioral Health Effects of the Deepwater Horizon Gulf Oil Spill

Department of Psychiatry, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, 1542 Tulane Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70433, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Merv Fingas
Received: 7 August 2015 / Accepted: 12 October 2015 / Published: 20 October 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Marine Oil Spills)
Full-Text   |   PDF [228 KB, uploaded 23 October 2015]   |  


Mental health issues are a significant concern after technological disasters such as the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill; however, there is limited knowledge about the long-term effects of oil spills. The study was part of a larger research effort to improve understanding of the mental and behavioral health effects of the Deepwater Horizon Gulf Oil Spill. Data were collected immediately following the spill and the same individuals were resampled again after the second anniversary (n = 314). The results show that mental health symptoms of depression, serious mental illness and posttraumatic stress have not statistically decreased, and anxiety symptoms were statistically equivalent to immediate symptoms. Results also showed that the greatest effect on anxiety is related to the extent of disruption to participants’ lives, work, family, and social engagement. This study supports lessons learned following the Exxon Valdez spill suggesting that mental health effects are long term and recovery is slow. Elevated symptoms indicate the continued need for mental health services, especially for individuals with high levels of disruption resulting in increased anxiety. Findings also suggest that the longer-term recovery trajectories following the Deepwater Horizon Gulf Oil Spill do not fall within traditional disaster recovery timelines. View Full-Text
Keywords: behavioral modifications; oil spill; anxiety behavioral modifications; oil spill; anxiety

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Hansel, T.C.; Osofsky, H.J.; Osofsky, J.D.; Speier, A. Longer-Term Mental and Behavioral Health Effects of the Deepwater Horizon Gulf Oil Spill. J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2015, 3, 1260-1271.

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