Webinar: Community & Psychosocial Effects of Oil & Gas Development


oil and gas clipart

Session 1: Community Changes: Changes to the Fabric (social, economic, etc.)

February 29th 2:00pm – 3:30pm ET

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Session 1: Community Changes: Changes to the Fabric (social, economic, etc.)

Part 1 of the webinar series: There are a number of ways that unconventional energy extraction and development can affect the health of families. For example, increased traffic volume can increase the likelihood of injuries and fatalities in a community. Other aspects such as increased levels of noise can cause stress, difficulty sleeping, and can exacerbate physical outcomes of existing health problems. This highly industrialized process can also change the social fabric of a community. Communities have reported changes in social norms, and a perceived loss of social cohesion where ongoing unconventional oil and gas development (UOGD) has taken place, especially when it comes to issues concerning mental health.

TALK 1: An Overview of Community Impacts:

Dr. Jacquet’s presentation will provide an overview of the range of impacts experienced by communities and individuals near areas of oil and gas extraction. Research has demonstrated an array of possible benefits and stressors to community infrastructure as well as social and psychological well-being of residents; however these stressors are experienced and perceived differently across varying types of populations.

bio 1Jeffrey Jacquet PhD. – Assistant Professor of Sociology & Rural Studies, South Dakota State University

Bio: Dr. Jacquet has performed social and economic impact analyses of unconventional oil and gas development, sociological analysis of energy development in areas across the U.S, and has worked with a number of universities and Extension agencies.  He is the Principal Investigator of new NSF-Funded project entitled Fostering Cross-Disciplinary Research on Energy Development. He attained his PhD in Natural Resources from Cornell University in 2012.

TALK 2: Changes to Social & Community Norms:

Dr. Perry will provide an overview of place-based collaborative ethnography as an applied social science practice and community health assessment tool for understanding the psycho-social impacts of unconventional oil and gas development (UOGD). She will discuss preliminary findings from her on-going ethnographic work in Bradford County, Pennsylvania and its potential for illuminating normative change processes, perceptions of social cohesion, and inter-generational dimensions of stress and trauma.

bio 2Simona Perry PhD. – Anthropologist and Research partner at c.a.s.e. Consulting Services

Bio: Simona L. Perry, PhD is the Founder/Research Director of c.a.s.e. Consulting Services LLC. As a professional environmental scientist and applied ethnographer, she works in rural and urban places across the U.S. to document and raise awareness of the interconnections between ecology, psychology, policy, culture, and history. She specializes in human-ecological risk assessment, asset based community development, local community-centric capacity building research, and transdisciplinary practices.

TALK 3: Health Concerns From the Community Perspective:

Dr. Ruth McDermott-Levy will describe the findings of focus group interviews regarding health concerns of community members living in a county in northeastern Pennsylvania that is undergoing the industrialization of UNGD.  Powerlessness and stress related to changes within the community were common themes of the participants.  Physiological impacts related to long-term stress will also be discussed.

Ruth McDermott-Levy, PhD, RN – Associate Professor and Director for the Center for Global and Public Health at Villanova University, College of Nursing

Bio: Dr. Ruth McDermott-Levy’s area of nursing expertise is public health nursing with a focus on global health and environmental health. She is a the co-chair of the Education Workgroup of the Alliance of Nursing for Healthy Environments, foundling member of Pennsylvania Health Professionals for a Livable Future, board member of Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project and a co-author of the American Health Association’s of 2012 House of Delegates Resolution, “Nurses’ Role in Recognizing, Educating and Advocating for Healthy Energy Choices” which called for a national moratorium on new unconventional natural gas wells. She has taught nursing students and nurses about the health impacts of UOGD. Her current research is related to environmental health risk and community education needs in UOGD communities in Pennsylvania.


Session 2: Clinicians’ Perspectives: Symptoms, & Approaches to Diagnosing and Treatment

March 7th 2:00pm – 3:30pm ET

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Part 2 of the webinar series:  As knowledge increases about fossil fuel extraction and development, public health professionals and clinicians are developing best practice recommendations for physicians, community health centers and patients. One of the main recommendations for health professionals working in impacted areas is to incorporate questions and health concerns into patient intake forms and into doctor patient discussions. In this panel, social workers and clinicians will discuss some of the problems seen in patients with stress, anxiety and mood and will talk about what is being seen in local impacted areas and what is being done to develop resources to help residents whose mental health has been affected by unconventional oil and gas development.

TALK 1: Patient Assessment from the Pediatric/Healthcare Provider Perspective:

Dr. Dyrszka will provide an overview on the mental health symptomatology that is frequently observed in patients believed to be impacted by O&G development. She will discuss some of challenges including that these patients often present to general healthcare providers rather than specialists who don’t often see nor readily diagnose or treat individuals presenting with psychosocial and mental health effects related to oil and gas operations. Dr. Dyrszka will also describe symptoms that commonly present in the pediatric population and the variability with symptom manifestation in children and young adults. She will conclude with an overview of how SWPA-EHP is evaluating the mental health effects in the SW PA region and in NY.

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Larysa Dyrszka, MD –Board-certified Pediatrician and former Director of Pediatrics at Holy Name Hospital. 

 Bio: Following residency and board certification in pediatrics, Dr Dyrszka practiced general pediatrics and held the position of Director of Pediatrics at Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck, NJ. Her recent work has been focused on children’s rights with the Conference of NGOs at the United Nations Committee on Children’s Rights. She is a graduate of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. She has been a SUNY (State University of New York) Sullivan Community College Board of Trustees member since 2009, appointed by Governor Paterson. Dr. Dyrszka is an advocate for health on the issue of natural gas exploration and production.  She is a founding member of Sullivan Area Citizens for Responsible Energy Development, vice-chair of the CME curriculum committee for Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy and on the board of Physicians for Social Responsibility – New York.  Together with fellow NY medical colleagues, she founded Concerned Health Professionals of New York.

TALK 2: Lessons Learned Regarding Emerging Health Issues Related to Unconventional Oil and Gas Development: 

Central to the work of the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project are the health and environmental risk assessments completed by the family nurse practitioner. Dr. Resick will discuss the most commonly reported symptoms and physical findings of individuals living in communities experiencing proliferation of unconventional oil and gas development (UOGD) and the challenges encountered by health care providers. Although reported symptoms relate to nearly all body systems, high levels of ongoing stress are most pervasive. Laboratory testing presents many challenges. Research is in the early stages regarding this issue. The degree of symptoms reported is often associated with the topography of the rolling hills and valleys in this region. Individuals living near UOGD activities are at risk for undiagnosed conditions related to environmental exposures. Health care providers need to be aware of potential for emerging environmental health issues in their communities.

bio 6Lenore Resick PhD, CRNP, FNP-BC, FAANP, FAAN- Family Nurse Practitioner, Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project

Bio: Dr. Resick, a native of Southwestern Pennsylvania, received her Diploma from Presbyterian University Hospital School of Nursing, her Bachelors and Masters degrees in nursing from the University of Pittsburgh, and her Doctor of Philosophy Degree from Duquesne University. Before joining the EHP as the Family Nurse Practitioner, she held the position of Clinical Professor; Noble J. Dick Endowed Chair in Community Outreach; Executive Director, Community-Based Health & Wellness Center for Older Adults and Director Family Nurse Program at Duquesne University School of Nursing. She has published and presented nationally and internationally on topics related to nurse-led community-based wellness centers. Her research interests include health and wellness and the meaning of health among vulnerable populations. In 2015 she was appointed Professor Emerita, Duquesne University School of Nursing.

TALK 3: Developing Community & Clinical Resources: Integrating Varying Perspectives: 

Ms. Chabeau will explain how the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project (EHP) has worked with residents whose mental health has been impacted by UOGD. As part of their mission to provide timely, accurate, and trusted public health information, the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project (EHP) provides environmental health consultations to residents who have health concerns attributed to unconventional oil and gas development (UOGD). Since initiating health assessments in 2012, the Health and Wellness Team has realized the mental health impact on residents of communities experiencing rapid growth of UOGD. Ms. Chabeau will explain how this has been done through a multitude of focus groups and community-based participation. Through the focus groups and community-based participation, EHP has been able to develop resources to help residents whose mental health has been affected by UOGD. Virtually every client who has been assessed by their family nurse practitioners has reported problems with mood, anxiety, and stress.

bio 4Jessa Chabeau, MSW – Social Worker and Case Manager at Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project (EHP)

Bio: Ms. Chabeau has a Masters in Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh. Jessa is focused on Community Organization and Social Administration, while also becoming certified in Human Services Management. While studying at the University of Pittsburgh, Jessa participated in a 9-month field placement at the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project (EHP), which led to her officially joining the organization after graduation. These experiences have specifically prepared her for her current position as case manager. In addition to being the Case Manager, Jessa is a member of the Health and Wellness Team and the convener of the Stress Team at EHP.


Session 3: Researchers’ Perspectives: community research and data to inform policy outcomes

March 14th 2:00pm – 3:30pm ET

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Part 3 of the webinar series: Although there is limited research on mental health associated with unconventional oil and gas development (UOGD), there is evidence of those being affected by this issue. Widespread mental health impacts are consistent with emerging reports in peer-reviewed literature. These mental health impacts described in these studies are consistent with multiple studies demonstrating the relationship between mental health outcomes and industrial releases of fossil fuel, which document higher prevalence of depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders in communities exposed to releases of hazardous materials compared to those who are unexposed.

TALK 1: Self-reported health, function and sense of control: A descriptive study from one county in southwestern PA:

Ms. Greiner will discuss research she and her colleagues conducted in southwestern PA, an area of the US that has experienced rapid growth in unconventional natural gas extraction activities. The purpose of their descriptive study was to explore the relationships among mental health, physical health, and unconventional natural gas extraction activities. Participants in the study completed the SF-36v2©, which measures eight domains of mental and physical health and function, and the Index of Social Control, which measures individual sense of control over good and bad things in life. Ms. Greiner will discuss the prevalence of impairment in mental and physical health as indicated by the SF-36 scores, as well as the relationship between one’s sense of control over good and bad things that happen and mental and physical health.

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Lydia Greiner, MSN, APRN, PMHNP-BC

Bio: Lydia Greiner, MSN, PHMNP-BC, is a board certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner who earned her Bachelor’s degree in nursing at the University of Pennsylvania and her Master’s degree in nursing at Fairfield University. She is currently a DrPH candidate at Boston University School of Public Health. She has worked in the field of public health for more than 15 years, primarily in the areas of mental health, aging, and environmental health. Her current research interest is in the relationship between mental health and the environment in communities impacted by unconventional oil and gas development. She works as a consultant to the Southwest PA Environmental Health Project and collaborates with community environmental groups in California. She serves as adjunct/lecturer faculty at Fairfield University, San Diego State University and Cal State University San Marcos, teaching psychiatric nursing and public health nursing. She maintains her practice as a psychiatric nurse practitioner as a volunteer at a student run free clinic in San Diego.

TALK 2: Mental health effects in mobile workers in wake of Canada’s oil crisis:

Ms. Angel will discuss the higher prevalence of depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders in communities and industry workers. She will review based on her research findings what we can currently understand about the mental health of tradesmen working in high-risk jobs, often in work camps, where they “fly-in/fly out’ for up to 24 days at a time.  We will discuss the oil and gas company cultures, the trends in oil and gas production and suicide rates.

bio 8Angela C. Angel – Corporate consultant and sociologist 

Bio: Angela C. Angel is a health impact assessment practitioner and program manager of Mobile Worker Wellness with Habitat Health Impact Consulting. Based in Calgary, Alberta, she provides expertise to industry, government and communities on how to maximize mobile workforce wellness and, in turn, boost worker morale, productivity, retention, safety and overall worker and community wellbeing.

TALK 3: Policy implications of unconventional shale gas development impacts on quality of life:

Dr. Casagrande will discuss results interview, focus group and survey research on how unconventional shale gas development is impacting life satisfaction and perceived stress in Pennsylvania’s Northern Tier. He will close the webinar series by briefly outlining the processes by which public policy is created and implemented and discuss potential strategies for researchers and clinicians to influence policy.

150323_Casagrande-1.1David Casagrande, PhD

Bio: David Casagrande is an associate professor of anthropology and research coordinator for the Environmental Initiative at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He has studied how humans derive benefits from natural environments in Mexico, Venezuela and the United States with an emphasis on policy and planning. He worked as a policy analyst in state and local government for ten years. He currently leads an interdisciplinary team studying the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on human quality of life in Pennsylvania. He received a B.Sci. in Geography from Southern Connecticut State University, a M.Sci. in ecology and policy from Yale University, and a Ph.D. in ecological anthropology from the University of Georgia.