Dr. Arian Rung, faculty in the LSUHSC School of Public Health, Epidemiology Program, was featured in the Women and Gender Health Interest Group at AcademyHealth’s Annual Research Meeting on Saturday, June 24, 2017. The group addressed the topic of “The Environment and the Health of Women and Families: Zika, the Gulf Oil Spill and the Interactions of Environmental and Community Health in Louisiana”. Her presentation was jointly featured with the Child Health Interest Group. Dr. Rung’s presentation focused on mental health findings from Women and Their Children’s Health (WaTCH) study conducted following the BP Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill in 2010.
The NIH/NIEHS funded Women and Their Children’s Health (WaTCH) study explored the short- and long-term physical, mental, and community health effects of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on women and children who lived in the seven most affected southeastern coastal parishes. 2600 women and 600 children from Southeastern Louisiana participated in this study.
Dr. Rung’s findings address the following topics of interest:
- High prevalence of mental health symptoms immediately following Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.
- The social context that is normally protective against depression is itself negatively impacted by the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.
- Depression has increased, while mental distress has decreased over time.
- Initial associations between economic consequences of Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, physical/environmental exposure, and mental health have persisted over time.
Up to now, very little research has been done to study the long-term health effects from oil spills, and currently, no other local organization is studying the physical and mental health of such a large group of women and their children in Louisiana. The LSUHSC School of Public Health WaTCH study is especially important because of the links between oil spill exposures, community resilience, and human health, which are all understudied.
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), an institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), funded the Deepwater Horizon Research Consortium, a network of community and university partnerships to conduct this important research in the Gulf region. To learn more about WaTCH or if you were a participant go here.