Methods: Data for the study was derived from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Gulf States Population Survey (GSPS). The purpose of the survey was to provide information about the mental and behavioral health of residents affected by the oil spill. The final sample used for analysis included 4,664 African American adults from Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. A total of 32 counties within a radius of 32 miles of the oil spill were included. Inclusion criteria for the study were that an individual had to identify as Black or African American. The study design was a comparative design, comparing risk and protective factors of individual resilience. The outcome variable, individual resilience was operationalized using the five-item abbreviated Pearlin Mastery Scale (Pearlin et al., 1981), by measuring self-esteem, self-efficacy, self-mastery, and optimism of individuals.
Results: A hierarchical multiple regression analysis indicated that risk factors explained 7% of the variance in individual resilience, F (4,4238) = 120.24, p < .0001. Furthermore, protective factors explained an incremental 12% of the variance in individual resilience, F (8, 4215) = 138.24 p < .0001, above and beyond the variance in accounted for by risk factors. Significant risk predictors are job loss as a result of the oil spill, decrease in income and depression. Significant protective factors are emotional and social support and level of education. Analysis indicated African American females had higher levels of individual resilience compared to lower levels of resilience amongst males. Differences in resource loss included depression and anxiety. Differences in resource protection included mental health status.
Conclusions and Implications: This study offers several important insights regarding gender differences, among African Americans faced by disaster. Conservation of Resources theory provides a necessary understanding of these findings within a resource loss and gain model for socially vulnerable and marginalized populations impacted by disaster. Specifically, the findings suggest more nuanced and targeted interventions in the areas of disaster response and preparedness may be needed to address the unique experiences and contexts of particular communities. Implications for social work policy, practice, and research will be discussed.