LSU Research Finds Association of Enduring Consequences of Disaster Exposure on Depressive Symptoms in Women

Research at LSU School of Public Health indicates that the severity of the stress response to experiencing disaster depends on individual exposure and background stress prior to the event. Published in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology on June 27, 2017, this current research explores individual-level exposure to disaster, neighborhood environmental characteristics, and their independent and combined associations with depressive symptoms in women.

According to Dr. Symielle A. Gaston, alumni of the LSU School of Public Health Epidemiology program and currently an ORISE Postdoctoral Participant at U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has indicated, “the objective of the current study was to assess if the association between exposure to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (DHOS) and depressive symptoms varied by neighborhood characteristics. To date, there is limited research on the interaction between neighborhood environmental stress and experiencing an oil spill, and their effects on depression.” The findings were jointly published with faculty from the LSU School of Public Health; Dr. Julia Volaufova, in Biostatistics, Drs. Edward S. Peters, Tekeda F. Ferguson, Edward J. Trapido, Ariane L. Rung from Epidemiology and Dr. William T. Robinson from Behavioral & Community Health Science. Authorship also includes Dr. Nicole Nugent, from the Departments of Pediatrics and Psychiatry and Human Behavior Brown University Warren Alpert School of Medicine.

The analysis included female residents from two waves of the Women and Their Children’s Health Study. It included 889 women from Wave I and 737 women from Wave II all from an area highly affected by the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. The results indicate that both physical and environmental exposure to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill was associated with increased depressive symptoms only among women living in areas with physical disorder and that   exposure to the DHOS remained associated with depressive symptoms over time. The findings from this study support the enduring consequences of disaster exposure on depressive symptoms in women and identify potential targets for post-disaster intervention based on residential characteristics.

To read more about the LSU School of Public Health WaTCH Study or this publication click here.

Dr. Symielle Gaston, SPH Alum ’16