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The impacts of flooding events on mental health in New Brunswick

Category(s): Health
Status: Active
Principal: Sandra Magalhaes
Project Number: P0102
Year Approved: 2022

Project Description

There have been over 300 documented floods in New Brunswick (NB) since 1696, affecting all regions of the province, with significant flooding events in several recent years. Climate change and forestry harvesting practices contribute to the recent increase in flooding events. Flood events and the damage caused by flooding can lead to residential uncertainty, including being displaced from homes, damage or loss of property, and the injury and death of loved ones, which can negatively impact mental health. There is a need to understand how flooding impacts individuals' and communities' overall mental health and contribute to research on mental health and extreme weather events. Such research is needed to inform decision-makers regarding sustainable planning policies and make mental health supports and services available during and after these events.

We are proposing to conduct a research study to look at the mental health impacts of flooding in New Brunswick during and after recent floods in the last 20 years. The study will utilize a population-based longitudinal cohort study design to examine the associations between living in a residential area affected by flooding in New Brunswick and the mental health impacts that occurred during and after the event. Administrative data will be used to define and describe the population of New Brunswickers that were residing in areas impacted by flooding, to quantify selected mental health outcomes in this population, to identify a comparison group not residing in areas impacted by flooding, and to quantify the mental health impacts associated with major flooding events in NB and in specific population sub-groups. The study will first characterize the populations affected by floods. Next, provincial administrative health datasets from the NB-IRDT will be used to identify the individuals in these areas who had service use for a mental health or mood or anxiety disorder, or visited a physician for psychotherapy/counselling during and after the flooding event. Finally, these individuals' socioeconomic (SES) and health characteristics will be examined the mental health impacts of a flooding event in various subgroups of the population.

The results will provide insights into regions of NB, socioeconomic factors, and demographics such as age and sex that are related to increased individual risk of negative mental health outcomes because of a flooding event.

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