1Department of Preventive Medicine, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Korea. firstname.lastname@example.org 2Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Korea. 3Department of Preventive Medicine, Dankook University College of Medicine, Korea. 4Department of Preventive Medicine, Ewha Womans University Medical School, Korea. 5Citizen's Institute for Environmental Studies, Korean Federation for Environmental Movement, Korea. 6Taean Institute of Environmental Health, Korea.
OBJECTIVES: Our objective was to examine and evaluate the psychological health of the residents of Taean during the cleanup of the Hebei Spirit (HS) oil spill and to review some factors associated with the results. METHODS: A community survey of 71 men and women was conducted 8 weeks after the HS oil spill. Questionnaires used were the PWI (Psychological Well-being Index) scale for psychosocial distress, the CES-D (Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression) scale for depressive symptoms, and a questionnaire created to assess suicidal impulses. RESULTS: The overall prevalence of high-risk psychosocial distress among the study group was 64.2%. The percentages of respondents with scores on the CES-D Scale above 16 and above 21 were 77.6% and 62.7%, respectively. The percentage of respondents categorized as having suicidal impulses was 18.3%. When compared with unexposed groups in the general population taken from various sources, the residents of Taean were 6.5 times as likely to have high stress and 9.4-9.7 times as likely to be depressed. No significant difference in the rate of suicidal impulse was found between the residents of Taean and the general population. Factors associated with high stress, depression, and suicidal impulses were age, a change in income, educational level, number of days working on the cleanup, and positive responses to questions about "affected daily activity" and "hospital visit due to work on cleanup." CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that the HS oil spill had a significant impact on the psychological health of residents of Taean, but the comparability of the unexposed groups is a limitation of the study.