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Strong attachment to local communities made oil spill more stressful for many coastal residents
Date:10/7/2011

BATON ROUGE A major concern related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010 was the impact on people living in coastal areas. News reports provided anecdotal evidence that those living along the coast and reliant on the fishing or oil and gas industries for their livelihoods were very distressed and worried about the impact of the spill on their future.

Two decades of social science research has reported that people who are more attached to their communities are better off. They are happier, less depressed and physically healthier than those who have weak attachments to their community. It therefore seemed likely that in south Louisiana, a place where people tend to stay for generations, being strongly attached to the local community would help insulate people from the stress related to dealing with the oil spill. But in a study just advance published online in the prominent journal American Behavioral Scientist, two LSU sociologists challenge the conventional wisdom on this score and reach a much a different conclusion.

In one of the first publications to present systematically collected public health data on coastal populations affected by the catastrophic oil spill of 2010, LSU sociologists Matthew Lee and Troy Blanchard report that individuals having a stronger sense of attachment to their community exhibited higher self-reported levels of anxiety, worry, nervousness and fear. The data for their study "Community Attachment and Negative Affective States in the Context of the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster" were collected via telephone surveys with more than 900 household respondents in Lafourche, Terrebonne and Plaquemines parishes in coastal Louisiana between June 16 and July 1, 2010, while the oil was still flowing freely.

The authors suggest that under normal conditions, attachment to community is a good thing, providing people avenues for social supports and a positive sense of having a place to call home in mass so
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Contact: Ashley Berthelot
aberth4@lsu.edu
225-578-3870
Louisiana State University
Source:Eurekalert

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