Psychological Health in Residents Participating in Clean-up Works of Hebei Spirit Oil Spill

Department of Preventive Medicine, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Korea.
Journal of Preventive Medicine and Public Health 04/2009; 42(2):82-8. DOI: 10.3961/jpmph.2009.42.2.82
Source: PubMed


Our objective was to examine and evaluate the psychological health of the residents of Taean during the cleanup of the Hebei Spirit (HS) oil spill and to review some factors associated with the results.
A community survey of 71 men and women was conducted 8 weeks after the HS oil spill. Questionnaires used were the PWI (Psychological Well-being Index) scale for psychosocial distress, the CES-D (Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression) scale for depressive symptoms, and a questionnaire created to assess suicidal impulses.
The overall prevalence of high-risk psychosocial distress among the study group was 64.2%. The percentages of respondents with scores on the CES-D Scale above 16 and above 21 were 77.6% and 62.7%, respectively. The percentage of respondents categorized as having suicidal impulses was 18.3%. When compared with unexposed groups in the general population taken from various sources, the residents of Taean were 6.5 times as likely to have high stress and 9.4-9.7 times as likely to be depressed. No significant difference in the rate of suicidal impulse was found between the residents of Taean and the general population. Factors associated with high stress, depression, and suicidal impulses were age, a change in income, educational level, number of days working on the cleanup, and positive responses to questions about "affected daily activity" and "hospital visit due to work on cleanup."
The results suggest that the HS oil spill had a significant impact on the psychological health of residents of Taean, but the comparability of the unexposed groups is a limitation of the study.

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    • "Studies on the Hebei Spirit oil spill accident have reported a general sense of stress and depression among a number of people in the affected area [2]. However, investigations on children in that area have not been conducted. "
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    ABSTRACT: Children are one of the most vulnerable populations to the impact of disasters. We aimed to examine children's mental health in the area affected by the Hebei Spirit oil spill accident on December 7, 2007. A cross-sectional questionnaire survey was conducted using the Korean versions of the Children's Depression Inventory and State Anxiety Inventory for Children on 1,362 children attending elementary schools in the affected area. The information on distances between the nearest contaminated coastline to the child's residential house or attending school were obtained using a web-based map by inputting two address points. The symptom risks of depression and state anxiety were estimated by multiple logistic regression analyses adjusted for age, gender, and other covariates. Children with the closest distance (in the fourth quartile) to the school from the contaminated coastline showed a significantly higher symptom risk of depression compared to those with the farthest distance (first quartile)(odds ratio, 2.73; 95% confidence interval, 1.40-5.33), while there was no significant association between anxiety symptoms and distance. Children, a vulnerable population for mental health impact by the oil spill accident, should be included in mental health programs in the community along with their family as victims of the disaster.
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