The economic impact of disasters is well known; however, the link between financial loss and behavioral health problems is unknown. Participants included 198 adults of ages 21 to 82, living within 10 miles of the Gulf Coast during the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and were involved in the fishing, harvesting, seafood processing, or service/tourism industries. The functional impact of financial resource loss at 2.5 years post spill was measured using the 26-item Financial Life Events Checklist (FLEC). Individuals responded to financial distress by reducing social events and utility bills and changing food-shopping habits. The FLEC significantly predicted higher drug use (Drug Abuse Screening Test), alcohol use (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test), mood problems (Profile of Mood States), and depressive symptoms (Beck Depression Inventory II) (p values ≤ 0.05) 4.5 years after the spill. This preliminary study supports the notion that the functional impact of financial loss has a long-term impact on behavioral health after an oil spill.
This is a preview of subscription content,to check access.
Access this article
Similar content being viewed by others
Devi S. Anger and Anxiety on the Gulf Coast. Lancet. 2010;376:503–504.
Smith LC, Smith M, Ashcroft P. Analysis of Environmental and Economic Damages from British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Albany Law Review. 2011;74(1):563–585.
Ritchie BW, Crotts JC, Zehrer A, et al. Understanding the Effects of a Tourism Crisis: The Impact of the BP Oil Spill on Regional Lodging Demand. Journal of Travel Research. 2013;53(1):12–25.
Bomey N. BP’s Deepwater Horizon Costs Total $62B. USA Today. Available online at http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2016/07/14/bp-deepwater-horizon-costs/87087056/. Accessed on December 21, 2016.
Hobfoll SE. Conservation of Resources: A New Attempt at Conceptualizing Stress. American Psychologist. 1989;44(3):513–524.
Hobfoll SE, Lilly RS. Resource Conservation as a Strategy for Community Psychology. Journal of Community Psychology. 1993;21(2):128–148.
Lynch DL. What Do Forest Fires Really Cost? Journal of Forestry. 2004;102(6):42–49.
Merz B, Kreibich H, Schwarze R, et al. Assessment of Economic Flood Damage. Natural Hazards and Earth Systems Science. 2010;10:1697–1724.
Petterson JS, Stanley LD, Glazier E, et al. A Preliminary Assessment of Social and Economic Impacts associated with Hurricane Katrina. American Anthropology. 2006;108(4):643–670.
Sumalia UR, Cisneros-Montemayor AM, Dyck A, et al. Impact of the Deepwater Horizon Well Blowout on the Economics of U.S. Gulf Fisheries. Canadian Journal of Fish and Aquatic Sciences. 2012;69(3):499–510.
Lowe SR, Joshi S, Pietrzak RH, et al. Mental Health and General Wellness in the Aftermath of Hurricane Ike. Social Science & Medicine. 2015;124:162–170.
Goldstein BD, Osofsky JH, Lichtveld MY. The Gulf Oil Spill. New England Journal of Medicine. 2011;364(14):1334–1348.
Grattan L, Roberts S, Mahan W, et al. The Early Psychological Impacts of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on Florida and Alabama Communities. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2011;119(6):838–843.
Rung AL, Gaston S, Oral E, et al. Depression, Mental Distress, and Domestic Conflict among Louisiana Women Exposed to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the WaTCH Study. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2016;124:1429–1435.
Grattan LM, Brumback B, Roberts SM, et al. ‘Bouncing Back’ after the Deepwater Horizon Spill. Disaster Prevention and Management. 2017;122–133.
Palinkas LA, Petterson JS, Russell J, et al. Community Patterns of Psychiatric Disorders after the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. American Journal of Psychiatry. 1993;150(10):1517–1523.
Gill DA, Picou SJ, Ritchie AL. The Exxon Valdez and BP Oil Spills: A Comparison of Initial Social and Psychological Impacts. American Behavioral Scientist. 2011;56:3–23.
Picou S, Formichella C, Marshall B, et al. Community impacts of the Exxon Valdez oil spill: a synthesis and elaboration of social science research. In: SR Braund, J Krause (Eds). Synthesis: Three Decades of Research on Socioeconomic Effects Related to Offshore Petroleum Development in Coastal Alaska. Alaska: U.S. Department of the Interior, Minerals Management Service, 2009, pp. 279–307.
Cerda M, Tracy M, Galea S. A Prospective Population Based Study of Changes in Alcohol Use and Binge Drinking after a Mass Traumatic Event. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 2011;115:1–8.
Gould DW, Teich JL, Pemberton MR, et al. Behavioral Health in the Gulf Coast Region Following the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Findings from Two Federal Surveys. Journal of Behavioral and Health Services Research. 2015;42:6–22.
Norris FH, Friedman MJ, Watson PJ, et al. 60,000 Disaster Victims Speak: Part I. An Empirical Review of the Empirical Literature, 1981-2001. Psychiatry. 2002;65(3):207–239.
Arata CM, Picou JS, Johnson GD, et al. Coping with Technological Disaster: An Application of the Conservation of Resources Model to the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. Journal of Traumatic Stress. 2000;13:23–39.
Hobfoll SE. The Influence of Culture, Community, and the Nested-Self in the Stress Process: Advancing Conservation of Resources Theory. Applied Psychological International Review. 2001;50(3):337–421.
Hobfoll SE. Social and Psychological Resources and Adaptation. Review of General Psychology. 2002;6(4):307–324.
Ehrlich M, Harville E, Xiong X, et al. Loss of Resources and Hurricane Experience as Predictors of Postpartum Depression among Women in Southern Louisiana. Journal of Women’s Health. 2010;19(5):877–884.
Freedy JR, Shaw DL, Jarrell MP, et al. Towards an Understanding of the Psychological Impact of Natural Disasters: An Application of the Conservation Resources Stress Model. Journal of Traumatic Stress. 1992;5(3):441–454.
Galea S, Tracy M, Norris F, et al. Financial and Social Circumstances and the Incidence and Course of PTSD in Mississippi during the First Two Years after Hurricane Katrina. Journal of Traumatic Stress. 2008;21(4):357–368.
Hobfoll SE, Lilly RS, Jackson AP. Conservation of social resources and the self. In: HOF Veiel, U Baumann (Eds). The Meaning and Measurement of Social Support: Taking Stock of 20 Years of Research. Washington, D.C.: Hemisphere, 1991, pp. 125–141.
Dohrenwend BS, Askenasy AR, Krasnoff L, et al. Exemplification of a Method for Scaling Life Events: The PERI Life Events Scale. Journal of Health and Social Behavior. 1978;19(2):205–229.
Saunders JB, Aasland OG, Babor TF, et al. Development of the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT): WHO Collaborative Project on Early Detection of Persons with Harmful Alcohol Consumption. Addiction. 1993;88:791–804.
Beck AT, Steer RA, Brown GK. BDI-II, Beck Depression Inventory: Manual, Second Edition. San Antonio, TX: The Psychological Corp., 1996.
Skinner HA. The Drug Abuse Screening Test. Addictive Behaviors. 1982;7:363–371.
Gavin DR, Ross HE, Skinner HA. Diagnostic Validity of the DAST in the Assessment of DSM-III Drug Disorders. British Journal of Addiction. 1989;84:301–307.
Barr M.S. Financial Services, Savings and Borrowing among Low-and Moderate-Income Households: Evidence from the Detroit Area Household Financial Services Survey. Paper presented at the Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies. Ithaca, New York, September 12, 2008.
Butterworth P, Rodgers B, Windsor TD. Financial Hardship, Socio-Economic Position and Depression: Results from the PATH Through Life Survey. Social Science Medicine. 2009;69(2):229–237.
Conger RD, Elder GH Jr., Lorenz FO, et al. Families in Troubled Times: Adapting to Change in Rural America. New York, NY: Aldine de Gruyter, 1994.
Lasley P, Fletcher CN, Flynn DK, et al. Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll: Summary, Spring 1985. Ames, IA: Cooperative Extension Service, Iowa State University, 1985.
Lempers JD, Clark-Lempers D, Simons RL. Economic Hardship, Parenting, and Distress in Adolescence. Child Development. 1989;60(1):25–39.
Lindner S. From Working to Applying: Employment Transitions of Applicants for Disability Insurance in the United States. Journal of Social Policy. 2013;42(2):329–348.
Wickrama KAS, Kwag KH, Lorenz FO, et al. Dynamics of Family Economic Hardship and the Progression of Health Problems of Husbands and Wives during the Middle Years: A Perspective from Rural Mid-West. Journal of Aging and Health. 2010;22(8):1132–1157.
Feldman RG. Appendix: boston occupational and environmental neurology questionnaire. In: RG Feldman (Ed). Occupational and Environmental Neurotoxicology. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott-Raven, 1999, pp. 466–474.
McNair DM, Lorr J, Droppleman LF. Profile of Mood States Standard Form. San Diego, CA: Educational and Industrial Testing Service, 2003.
Bonanno GA. Loss, Trauma, and Human Resilience: Have We Underestimated the Human Capacity to Thrive after Extremely Aversive Events? American Psychologist. 2004;59(1):20–28.
Freedy JR, Saladin ME, Kilpatrick DG, et al. Understanding Acute Psychological Distress Following Natural Disaster. Journal of Traumatic Stress. 1994;7(2):257–273.
Nandi A, Tracy M, Beard JR, et al. Patterns and Predictors of Trajectories of Depression after an Urban Disaster. Annals of Epidemiology. 2009;19(11):761–770.
Bonanno GA, Galea S, Bucciarelli A, et al. What Predicts Psychological Resilience after Disaster? The Role of Demographics, Resources, and Lift Stress. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 2007;75(5):671–682.
Bland SH, O’Leary ES, Farinaro E, et al. Long-Term Psychological Effects of Natural Disasters. Psychosomatic Medicine. 1996;58:18–24.
Binkley M. ‘Getting By’ in Tough Times: Coping with the Fisheries Crisis. Women Studies International Forum. 2000;23(3):323–332.
Conger RD, Lorenz FO, Elder GH Jr., et al. Husband and Wife Differences in Response to Undesirable Life Events. Journal of Health and Social Behavior. 1993;34(1):71–88.
Gibbs MS. Factors in the Victim that Mediate between Disaster and Psychopathology: A Review. Journal of Traumatic Stress. 1989;2(4):489–514.
Adams RE, Boscarino JA. Predictors of PTSD and Delayed PTSD after Disaster: The Impact of Exposure and Psychosocial Resources. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disorders. 2006;194:485–493.
Bisson JI, Lewis C. Systematic Review of Psychological First Aid: Commissioned by the World Health Organization. ResearchGate. Available online at https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Catrin_Lewis2/publication/265069490_Systematic_Review_of_Psychological_First_Aid/links/5450d15f0cf24e8f7375a73c/Systematic-Review-of-Psychological-First-Aid.pdf. Accessed on December 21, 2016.
We gratefully acknowledge the support and contributions of Joe Taylor and Lori Switzer of the Franklin’s Promise Coalition. The assistance of Ryan Jollie, Darla Jones, and the Alabama Seafood Association was also greatly appreciated in this project. The contents of this paper are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official view of the NIEHS.
Support for this project comes from the National Institute of Environmental and Health Sciences [5-U19-ES020683].
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
About this article
Cite this article
Buckingham-Howes, S., Holmes, K., Glenn Morris, J. et al. Prolonged Financial Distress After the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Predicts Behavioral Health. J Behav Health Serv Res 46, 294–305 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11414-018-9602-2