Methods: A cross-sectional survey design was used to collect data approximately 3 months following the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill. A sample of 188 residents that identified as female and lived along the Louisiana Gulf Coast were sampled. Purposive sampling techniques were used to allow for more detailed information on communities closest to the Gulf Coast. The majority of participants were: married/cohabitating (61%); over 41 years of age (57%); reported a 2009 annual income of less than $40,000 (78%) and had at least 1 child under the age of 18 (84%). Two-thirds (66%) of the participants reported a moderate to severe disruption in their family, social and/or work life due to the oil spill. In addition, 42% reported worse mental health; 23% reported an increase in partner conflict; and 32% reported an increase in life stressors since the spill.
Results: Two regression models were tested. Results revealed that that post-oil spill variables and resilience accounted for 28.2% of the variance in resilience [F (4, 187) = 18.01, p < .001], significant predictors included oil spill disruption, aggression, post-spill partner conflict and resilience. Results revealed pre-oil spill variables accounted for 18.6% of the variance in resilience [F (4, 188) = 10.52, p < .001], significant predictors included child behavior problems, pre-spill mental health, pre-spill life stressors, and pre-spill partner conflict.
Conclusions and Implications: To further our understanding of technological disasters such as oil spills, it is imperative to look into smaller groups embedded within larger populations. In this study we specifically explored female perspectives of response and recovery. Interestingly more pre-spill variables predicted resilience, where the predictor variables for mental health were more focused on post disaster factors. These findings highlight the importance of disaster preparedness initiatives focusing on resilience building and response initiatives focused on conflict resolution and stress management for better mental health outcomes.