The Geography of Mental Health and General Wellness in Galveston Bay After Hurricane Ike: A Spatial Epidemiologic Study With Longitudinal Data

Oliver Gruebner, Sarah R Lowe, Melissa Tracy, Magdalena Cerdá, Spruha Joshi, Fran H Norris, Sandro Galea
Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness 2016, 10 (2): 261-73

OBJECTIVES: To demonstrate a spatial epidemiologic approach that could be used in the aftermath of disasters to (1) detect spatial clusters and (2) explore geographic heterogeneity in predictors for mental health and general wellness.

METHODS: We used a cohort study of Hurricane Ike survivors (n=508) to assess the spatial distribution of postdisaster mental health wellness (most likely resilience trajectory for posttraumatic stress symptoms [PTSS] and depression) and general wellness (most likely resilience trajectory for PTSS, depression, functional impairment, and days of poor health) in Galveston, Texas. We applied the spatial scan statistic (SaTScan) and geographically weighted regression.

RESULTS: We found spatial clusters of high likelihood wellness in areas north of Texas City and spatial concentrations of low likelihood wellness in Galveston Island. Geographic variation was found in predictors of wellness, showing increasing associations with both forms of wellness the closer respondents were located to Galveston City in Galveston Island.

CONCLUSIONS: Predictors for postdisaster wellness may manifest differently across geographic space with concentrations of lower likelihood wellness and increased associations with predictors in areas of higher exposure. Our approach could be used to inform geographically targeted interventions to promote mental health and general wellness in disaster-affected communities.


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