Disparities in Health Impacts and Access to Care among Houston Area Residents in Hurricane Harvey

Authors: Aaron Flores*, University of Utah, Department of Geography, Timothy W Collins, University of Utah, Department of Geography, Sara E Grineski, University of Utah, Department of Sociology, Jayajit Chakraborty, University of Texas at El Paso, Department of Sociology & Anthropology
Topics: Hazards and Vulnerability, Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Geography and Urban Health
Keywords: Hurricane Harvey, Health Disparities, Houston
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Maryland A, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Hurricane Harvey dropped torrential rainfall on the Houston metro area in August, 2017. This led to flash floods in the Houston metro area and caused a significant economic impact. This study analyzes disparities in physical and mental health impacts and access to healthcare among Houston area residents in response to Hurricane Harvey. We use a structured survey, administered soon after Hurricane Harvey as part of a National Science Foundation-funded RAPID project, to obtain data for analyzing specific health outcomes and their significant predictors. The most common health problems reported by respondents were allergies (32.6%), headaches (28%), and nose (27.4%) and throat irritation (26.4%). In addition, 26.4 % of respondents reported having experienced depression during or any time after Hurricane Harvey. Results suggest the operation of multiple factors in affecting outcomes associated with Hurricane Harvey. Adverse event experiences and increased square footage of mold in the home were associated with increased likelihoods of respondents experiencing physical health problems, while evacuating decreased the likelihood of experiencing physical health problems. Social vulnerability characteristics, such as losing a job after Hurricane Harvey, older age, or being Black (non-Hispanic) were significant predictors of high post-traumatic stress (PTS). Adverse event experiences and square footage of mold in the home were also associated with higher likelihoods of experiencing PTS. Lastly, losing a job after Hurricane Harvey and having an evacuation disability were associated with higher likelihoods of going without access to healthcare.

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