Science Inventory

A Conceptual Framework to Address Stress-Associated Human Health Effects of Ecosystem Services Degraded by Disasters

Citation:

Sandifer, P., L. Knapp, T. Collier, A. Jones, R. Juster, C. Kelble, J. Miglarese, L. Palinkas, D. Porter, G. Scott, L. Smith, W. Sullivan, AND A. Sutton-Grier. A Conceptual Framework to Address Stress-Associated Human Health Effects of Ecosystem Services Degraded by Disasters. Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting, Fort Lauderdale, FL, August 07 - 12, 2016.

Impact/Purpose:

The conceptual model provides a robust framework for identifying, unraveling, and understanding linkages, associations and relationships that connect a given disaster to environmental changes that cascade through diminished ecosystem benefits to humans and result in health outcomes associated with chronic stress. It also provides a framework for more detailed sub-models and for designing improved before and after data collection efforts for future disasters and better treatment for disaster victims. The model was developed by an interdisciplinary team with expertise in data mining, ecology, ecosystem services, ecotoxicology, landscape ecology, mental health, psychiatry, and stress physiology and utilizes a Driver-Pressure-State-Ecosystem Service model.

Description:

Chronic stress leads to a variety of mental and physiological disorders, and stress effects are the primary concern after traumatic injury and exposure to infectious diseases or toxic agents from disaster events. We developed a conceptual model to address the question of whether degradation of ecosystem services (ES) by disasters such as recent hurricanes and the Deepwater Horizon oil catastrophe produce acute and chronic stress that ultimately result in short- and long-term negative health outcomes in people. An interdisciplinary team with expertise in data mining, ecology, ecosystem services, ecotoxicology, landscape ecology, mental health, psychiatry, and stress physiology utilized the Driver-Pressure-State-Ecosystem Service model of Kelble et al. (2013), the mental health framework of Palinkas (2012) and McEwen’s (1993) allostatic load model of chronic stress as starting points. Initial modeling results were augmented via expert workshops and peer review. Our conceptual model connects effects of disasters to changes in specific ecosystem components (e.g., water quality, biodiversity, fishery populations) with resulting degradation of multiple ES such as commercial and recreational fishing, tourism, and sense of place. The model shows how the degraded ES produce acute and chronic stress in people and how such stress may lead to a variety of negative mental, physical and behavioral health outcomes. Using this framework, one can trace potential for stress-related health effects from a disaster all the way to one or more specific health outcomes. For example, one could begin with an oil spill, consider ecological impacts of oil pollution which may lead to fears of contamination of fishery species, which in turn leads to degradation of commercial and recreational fishery ES. ES injury produces acute and chronic stress via loss of employment, income, and way of life. Increased and repeated stress effects lead to greater allostatic load (stress-related physiological dysregulations) as modified by a variety of socio-economic, demographic, and community factors, which in turn cause or exacerbate a variety of disorders such as depression, substance abuse, and cardiovascular disease. The model provides a robust framework for identifying, unraveling, and understanding linkages, associations, and perhaps cause-and-effect relationships that connect a given disaster to environmental changes that cascade through diminished ecosystem benefits to humans and result in maladies associated with chronic stress. It also provides a framework for more detailed sub-models and for designing improved before and after data collection efforts for future disasters and better treatment for disaster victims.

Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (PRESENTATION/ABSTRACT)
Product Published Date: 08/08/2016
Record Last Revised: 08/22/2016
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 324897

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS RESEARCH LABORATORY

GULF ECOLOGY DIVISION