222857 Role of resource losses in psychosocial responses to a slow-motion technological disaster: Conservation of Resources Theory and the Libby, Montana amphibole-asbestos disaster

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 : 5:00 PM - 5:15 PM

Rebecca J. W. Cline, PhD , School of Communication Studies, Kent State University, Kent, OH
Heather Orom, PhD , School of Public Health and Health Professions, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY
Tanis Hernandez, MSW , Center for Asbestos Related Disease, Libby, MT
Brad Black, MD , Center for Asbestos Related Disease, Libby, MT
Lisa Berry-Bobovski, MA , Communication and Behavioral Oncology Program, Karmanos Cancer Institute, Detroit, MI
Ann G. Schwartz, PhD, MPH , Population Sciences, Karmanos Cancer Institute, Detroit, MI
John C. Ruckdeschel, MD , Nevada Cancer Institute, Las Vegas, NV
Background: Widespread amphibole-asbestos exposure in Libby, Montana created what EPA has called the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history (>300 deaths; hundreds with asbestos-related disease (ARD)). Hobfoll's Conservation of Resources (COR) theory suggests that resource losses predict disaster victims' psychosocial responses. Purpose: We assessed (a) the roles of experience with ARD (Diagnosed, Family Member(s) Diagnosed, Non- ARD) in resource losses, and (b) the impact of resource losses on psychosocial outcomes in a slow-motion technological disaster (SMTD). Significance: Although previous research on natural disasters (earthquakes, hurricanes) associated resource losses with psychosocial adjustment, little is known about the impact of resource losses on victims of SMTDs. Methods: We conducted a population-based survey of randomly-selected households (n=528) and a second sample of randomly ARD patients (n=68), in Libby. Questions assessed disaster-related resource losses and psychosocial responses. We conducted an exploratory factor analysis of 30 potential resource losses. Results: Five resource loss factors emerged: financial/health, physical/identity, relational, institutional trust, and family/friends' health. ARD respondents consistently reported greater resource losses than Family and Non-ARD respondents. Resource losses had strong associations with centrality of event, psychosocial adjustment, and social support needs and failures. Conclusion: Findings are consistent with COR theory and research. Initial resource losses make people more vulnerable to additional losses, including loss of social support. Further, the greater the losses and the closer losses are to individuals/families, the more powerful their impact. The Libby experience may inform public health responses to SMTDs, including specific types of resource losses that most enhance victims' vulnerabilities.

Learning Areas:
Environmental health sciences
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Explain the role of resource losses in traumatic stress and other psychosocial outcomes of disasters. 2. Identify the most common types of resource losses associated with slow-motion technological disasters. 3. Discuss the magnitude and implications of resource losses during a slow-motion technological disaster for victims’ psychosocial outcomes.

Keywords: Environmental Health, Psychological Indicators

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I served as The Principal Investigator for the larger research project of which the submitted research is a part. Have conducted extensive research on psychosocial consequences of slow-motion technological disasters.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.