Does time heal all wounds? Community attachment, natural resource employment, and health impacts in the wake of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster


BP oil spill, Community attachment, Disaster, Health, Vulnerability, Resilience


On April 20, 2010, the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon (BP-DH) oil rig exploded, resulting in the largest marine oil spill in history. In this paper we utilize one-of-a-kind household survey data—the Louisiana Community Oil Spill Survey—to examine the impacts of the BP-DH disaster on the mental and physical health of spill affected residents in coastal Louisiana, with a special focus on the influence of community attachment and natural resource employment. We find that levels of both negative mental and physical health were significantly more pronounced at baseline compared to later time points. We show that greater community attachment is linked to lower levels of negative health impacts in the wake of the oil spill and that the disaster had a uniquely negative impact on households involved in the fishing industry. Further, we find evidence that the relationship between community attachment and mental health is more pronounced at later points in time, and that the negative health impacts on fishers have worsened over time. Implications for research and policy are discussed.

Original Publication Citation

Cope, Michael R., Tim Slack, Troy C. Blanchard, and Matthew R. Lee. 2013. “Does Time Heal All Wounds? Community Attachment, Natural Resource Employment, and Health Impacts in the Wake of the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster.” Social Science Research, 42:872-881.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date





Family, Home, and Social Sciences



University Standing at Time of Publication

Assistant Professor