Physical, Mental, and Financial Impacts From Drought in Two California Counties, 2015

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Abstract

Objectives

To evaluate health impacts of drought during the most severe drought in California's recorded history with a rapid assessment method.

Methods

We conducted Community Assessments for Public Health Emergency Response during October through November 2015 in Tulare County and Mariposa County to evaluate household water access, acute stressors, exacerbations of chronic diseases and behavioral health issues, and financial impacts. We evaluated pairwise associations by logistic regression with pooled data.

Results

By assessment area, households reported not having running water (3%-12%); impacts on finances (25%-39%), property (39%-54%), health (10%-20%), and peace of mind (33%-61%); worsening of a chronic disease (16%-46%); acute stress (8%-26%); and considering moving (14%-34%). Impacts on finances or property were each associated with impacts on health and peace of mind, and acute stress.

Conclusions

Drought-impacted households might perceive physical and mental health effects and might experience financial or property impacts related to the drought.

Public Health Implications

Local jurisdictions should consider implementing drought assistance programs, including behavioral health, and consider rapid assessments to inform public health action.

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