GoMRI RFP-V: Resilience Attributes for Children, Youth, and Communities in Deepwater Horizon (Slack)

The Understanding Resilience Attributes for Children, Youth, and Communities in the Wake of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill project is lead by Tim Slack, Louisiana State University.


Dr. Tim Slack

This proposal outlines a research agenda to assess the public health impacts of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon (DH) oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, with special emphasis on the impacts of the disaster on children and their families over time. The project will leverage face-to-face household interview data (N=692) collected by Columbia University’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness (NCDP) in 2014 on child and family health impacts in DH spill affected areas to build a three wave longitudinal data set with the 91% (N=629) of respondents who agreed to participate in subsequent follow up surveys.

Specifically, the proposed research asks the following research questions: Q1: What are the impacts of disaster-related trauma on children and families exposed to the 2010 DH oil spill, both in terms of physical and mental health effects as well as social consequences, such as increased risk behaviors, and decreased economic and educational opportunities? Q2: What is the relationship of primary and secondary stressors on these outcomes? Q3: What attributes of children and families are related to greater resilience to negative disaster-related impacts? Conversely, what attributes of children and families are related to greater vulnerability to negative impacts? Q3a: How does resilience/vulnerability vary across key sociodemographic groups, economic/occupational types (e.g., fishers and oil/gas workers), and families with different levels of social capital (e.g., social network structures and trust) or attachment to the social or natural environment? Q3b: What role do online social networks play in facilitating resilience? Q4: What sorts of issues are children confronting as a result of the oil spill and what sorts of measures do children, families, and community stakeholders see as being needed in response? Q5: How do all of the above change over time?

The ultimate goals of this research project are to: 1) Assess the public health and social impacts of the DH oil spill with a special focus on children and their families; 2) Identify attributes of children and families associated with resilience to negative disaster impacts and, conversely, attributes of children and families associated with vulnerability to negative disaster impacts; 3) Build a three wave panel dataset that allows for the assessment of within-unit change (i.e., children and their families) related to impacts, resilience, and vulnerability; 4) Train graduate students in disaster resilience research to help build the next generation of scholars dedicated to these issues; and 5) Make the information generated from this project actionable with the aim of helping facilitate disaster resilience and mitigate vulnerability.

This project was funded by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) in the RFP-V funding program.

The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) is a 10-year independent research program established to study the effect, and the potential associated impact, of hydrocarbon releases on the environment and public health, as well as to develop improved spill mitigation, oil detection, characterization and remediation technologies. An independent and academic 20-member Research Board makes the funding and research direction decisions to ensure the intellectual quality, effectiveness and academic independence of the GoMRI research. All research data, findings and publications will be made publicly available. The program was established through a $500 million financial commitment from BP. For more information, visit http://gulfresearchinitiative.org/.