A Conceptual Framework for Understanding the Mental Health Impacts of Oil Spills: Lessons from the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

TitleA Conceptual Framework for Understanding the Mental Health Impacts of Oil Spills: Lessons from the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsPalinkas LA
JournalPsychiatry-Interpersonal and Biological Processes
Volume75
Pagination203-222
Date PublishedFal
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0033-2747
Accession NumberWOS:000308448800001
KeywordsDeepwater Horizon Oil Spill, Various Oil Spills
AbstractThis paper introduces a conceptual framework for understanding and responding to the currently unfolding social and psychological impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Drawing from the concept of corrosive communities and its relationship to theories of conservation of resources, cognitive activation, and risk and resilience, the conceptual model identifies three levels or tiers of impacts: biopsychosocial impacts that are direct consequences of the contamination of the physical environment; interpersonal impacts that are direct consequences of the biopsychosocial impacts; and intrapersonal or psychological impacts that are consequences of both the biopsychosocial and the interpersonal impacts. The model is then evaluated in light of research conducted in the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez oil spill as well as studies of other manmade disasters, and offers a set of testable hypotheses that predict likely impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The conceptual framework may be used to identify strategies to develop community resilience and target specific services to prevent and mitigate these adverse effects.