Fussell awarded NIH grant to address long-term effects of Katrina

December 14, 2018

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] – Funding from the National Institutes of Health in the form of an R01 research grant will support research by PSTC Associate Professor of Population Studies and Environment and Society (Research) Elizabeth Fussell on the long-term effects of Hurricane Katrina on residents of New Orleans.

Hurricane Katrina, which struck New Orleans on August 29, 2005, is one of the most researched disasters in U.S. history with most health-related research focused on short-term outcomes, such as mortality and mental health. In general, little is known about long-term effects of disasters in the U.S. due to a lack of appropriate data and the high cost of designing and collecting representative samples of the exposed population after a disaster.

Fussell’s highly innovative project overcomes barriers to scientific knowledge about long-term disaster impacts by using existing census, survey, and administrative data to construct several longitudinal population representative data sets for the Katrina-affected New Orleans population with sample sizes large enough to study small groups and sample designs that will produce unbiased results.

These data sets will allow Fussell to examine the residential mobility, neighborhood characteristics, economic status, mortality, and health outcomes of the Katrina-affected residents of New Orleans in the decade following the disaster (2006-2015). Fussell says, “While we know the size of New Orleans’ population in each of the years after Katrina, we don’t know what proportion of these residents had lived there before Katrina. Many new residents have moved in since the disaster. We also don’t know where the pre-Katrina residents live now. We’ll be able to answer these questions in each of the post disaster years.” Additional results will provide key information for designing effective disaster mitigation and response policies to promote wellbeing and eliminate health disparities among disaster-affected populations.