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Psychological Vulnerability of Residents of Communities Affected by the Hebei Spirit Oil Spill

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2015

Kyung-Hwa Choi
Hallym Research Institute of Clinical Epidemiology, Hallym University, Chuncheon, Korea
Myung-Ho Lim
Department of Psychology, Dankook University College of Public Service, Cheonan, Korea
Mina Ha*
Department of Preventive Medicine, Dankook University College of Medicine, Cheonan, Korea
Jung Nam Sohn*
Department of Nursing, Hanseo University, Seosan, Korea and Taean Mental Health Center, Taean, Korea
Jong-Won Kang
Korean Industrial Health Association, Cheongju, Korea
Young-Hyun Choi
Taean Environmental Health Center, Taean, Korea
Hae-Kwan Cheong
Deaprtment of Social and Preventive Medicine, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Suwon, Korea
Correspondence and reprint requests to Mina Ha, Department of Preventive Medicine, Dankook University College of Medicine, 119 Dandae-ro, Dongnam-gu, Cheonan-si, Chungnam-do, 330-714, Republic of Korea (e-mail:, and Jung Nam Sohn, Department of Nursing, Hanseo University, 46 Hanseo-ro, Haemi-myeon, Seosan-si, Chungnam-do, 356-706, Republic of Korea (e-mail:
Correspondence and reprint requests to Mina Ha, Department of Preventive Medicine, Dankook University College of Medicine, 119 Dandae-ro, Dongnam-gu, Cheonan-si, Chungnam-do, 330-714, Republic of Korea (e-mail:, and Jung Nam Sohn, Department of Nursing, Hanseo University, 46 Hanseo-ro, Haemi-myeon, Seosan-si, Chungnam-do, 356-706, Republic of Korea (e-mail:



Psychological health is an important issue after disasters. This study aimed to investigate the prevalence of psychological symptoms among 993 residents of Taean District in South Korea after the Hebei Spirit oil spill and to examine determinants of vulnerability in residents’ psychological symptoms.


Symptoms of post-traumatic stress (PTS), depression, suicidal ideation, and anxiety were assessed by questionnaires, and the responses were analyzed by using the survey analysis considering the sampling frame.


Among the study subjects, the symptom prevalences of PTS, depression, suicidal ideation, and anxiety were 19.5%, 22.0%, 2.3%, and 4.2%, respectively, and symptoms were higher in people who were female, were older, were less educated, and had lower family income. People with fishery or related occupations compared to those with unrelated livelihoods and people residing in the vicinity of the oil band in the contaminated coastline showed additively increased symptom risks of PTS. Risk of suicidal ideation was predominantly increased in people with fishery or related occupations compared with those with unrelated livelihoods.


Social supports, including compensation for income loss and community mental health programs, and longer follow-up studies are needed for residents in the communities affected by the Hebei Spirit oil spill. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2016;10:51-58)

Original Research
Copyright © Society for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, Inc. 2015 

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