Geospatial Analysis of Mental Health Outcomes Following the 2013 West, TX Fertilizer Plant Explosion

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Bogle, Dylan Shane
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Middle Tennessee State University
Natural and man-made disasters have increased in the frequency of occurrence and the extent of their impact on people, agriculture, and infrastructure over the previous 40 years (UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, 2020). Given the growing frequency of disasters occurring, it has become crucial in the field of public health to better understand the mechanisms behind how disasters impact health and well-being. This study examined the geospatial relationship associated with the Euclidean distance from the site of an explosion in the rural community of West, TX, and the adverse mental health outcomes the community faced in the years following the incident. Data for this analysis was collected via in-person and online surveys of residents of the City of West. The findings from this study found that the prevalence of potential PTSD in rural communities meets and potentially exceeds that of urban communities. Additionally, we found that adverse mental health was clustered closest to the disaster site, and that the density of potential prevalence tapered off as distance increased.
Public health, Epidemiology