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Compounding impacts of hazard exposures on mental health in Houston, TX


Natural and anthropogenic hazards are increasingly becoming commonplace due to climate change and population pressures. The state of Texas is particularly vulnerable to these hazards and is ranked first in the USA due to the immense variety and frequency of large-scale events. While much research has looked at the immediate impacts these incidents have on mental health, little research has addressed the effects of compounding and repeated exposure to hazards. This cross-sectional study (N = 1224) collected survey data from a representative sample within the Houston Metropolitan Statistical Area. Utilizing the 12 item Short Form Health Survey version 2, a general composite score assessing mental health was compared against the type and frequency of hazard exposures. Findings revealed an observed reduction in mental health scores as participants had repeated exposures to major disasters. Further, the only significant result (p < 0.001) in dictating a reduced mental health scores was repeat exposure to hazards even after adjusting for demographic data and socioeconomic variables. This research reveals the long-term mental impact hazard exposures can have and underscores the need for target public health interventions and engaged community efforts.

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This research was funded by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine's Gulf Research Early-Career Fellowship Program.

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All authors contributed to study design, data interpretation and writing the paper. CT, GS, and LS created the survey design and assisted with data collection. CT conceived the methodology. GS performed the analysis. GS, CT, LS, LF, and EB contributed to writing and editing the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Garett T. Sansom.

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Ethical guidance and approval was obtained from the Texas A&M University Institutional Review Board (IRB2019-1550M).

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Sansom, G.T., Thompson, C., Sansom, L. et al. Compounding impacts of hazard exposures on mental health in Houston, TX. Nat Hazards 111, 2809–2818 (2022).

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  • Mental health
  • SF12
  • Hazards
  • Natural disaster