Persistent Risk-Related Worry as a Function of Recalled Exposure to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Prior Trauma

Published in: Risk Analysis, Volume 40, Issue 3, pages 624-637 (March 2020). doi: 10.1111/risa.13437

Posted on on September 16, 2020

by Andrew M. Parker, Melissa L. Finucane, Lynsay Ayer, Rajeev Ramchand, Vanessa Parks, Noreen Clancy

Read More

Access further information on this document at Risk Analysis

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

Large oil spills are disasters associated with psychological effects for exposed communities. The amount of worry that individuals experience after a disaster may be influenced by many factors, such as the type and extent of exposure to disaster impacts, prior trauma, and sociodemographic characteristics. This study examined the nature and predictors of worry about ongoing impacts of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon (DH) oil spill reported by Gulf of Mexico coastal residents. A random sample of 2,520 adult residents of Gulf of Mexico coastal counties were administered a telephone survey in 2016, including items about persistent worry and exposure to DH impacts, prior trauma, residence at the time of the spill, and sociodemographic characteristics. Respondents varied in the amount of worry they reported about ongoing health, social, and economic impacts. Controlling for sociodemographic characteristics, higher exposure to the DH oil spill was related to higher levels of worry about ongoing impacts, with past traumatic events related specifically to worry about health impacts. Unexpectedly, those who moved into the region after the spill showed similar levels of worry to residents exposed to the spill, and higher levels than residents who did not recall being exposed to the DH oil spill. This study highlights the impact of the DH oil spill on coastal residents many years after the DH disaster. The findings underscore the need to examine multiple pathways by which individuals experience disasters and for risk researchers to close knowledge gaps about long-term impacts of oil spills within a multi-dimensional framework.

Research conducted by

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.