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The effect of Hurricane Katrina on the prevalence of health impairments and disability among adults in New Orleans: Differences by age, race, and sex

Publication Abstract

Sastry, Narayan, and Jesse Gregory. 2013. "The effect of Hurricane Katrina on the prevalence of health impairments and disability among adults in New Orleans: Differences by age, race, and sex." Social Science & Medicine, 80: 121-129.

We examined the effects of Hurricane Katrina on disability-related measures of health among adults from New Orleans, U.S.A., in the year after the hurricane, with a focus on differences by age, race, and sex. Our analysis used data from the American Community Survey to compare disability rates between the pre-Katrina population of New Orleans with the same population in the year after Katrina (individuals were interviewed for the study even if they relocated away from the city). The comparability between the pre- and post-Katrina samples was enhanced by using propensity weights. We found a significant decline in health for the adult population from New Orleans in the year after the hurricane, with the disability rate rising from 20.6% to 24.6%. This increase in disability reflected a large rise in mental impairments and, to a lesser extent, in physical impairments. These increases were, in turn, concentrated among young and middle-aged black females. Stress-related factors likely explain why young and middle-aged black women experienced worse health outcomes, including living in dwellings and communities that suffered the most damage from the hurricane, household breakup, adverse outcomes for their children, and higher susceptibility.

DOI:10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.12.009 (Full Text)

PMCID: PMC3640812. (Pub Med Central)

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