Exploring Community Psychosocial Stress Related to Per- and Poly-Fluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Contamination: Lessons Learned from a Qualitative Study
AuthorCalloway, Eric E
Chiappone, Alethea L
Schmitt, Harrison J
Tucker, Pamela G
Yaroch, Amy L
AffiliationDepartment of Psychology, University of Arizona
public health response
stress coping capacity
MetadataShow full item record
CitationCalloway, E. E., Chiappone, A. L., Schmitt, H. J., Sullivan, D., Gerhardstein, B., Tucker, P. G., ... & Yaroch, A. L. (2020). Exploring Community Psychosocial Stress Related to Per-and Poly-Fluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Contamination: Lessons Learned from a Qualitative Study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(23), 8706.
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AbstractThe purpose of this study was to qualitatively explore the per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) exposure experience and associated stressors, to inform public health efforts to support psychosocial health and resilience in affected communities. Semi-structured interviews (n = 9) were conducted from July-September 2019 with community members and state public health department representatives from areas with PFAS-contaminated drinking water. Thematic analysis was completed and themes were described and summarized. Reported stressors included health concerns and uncertainty, institutional delegitimization and associated distrust, and financial burdens. Interviewees provided several strategies to reduce stress and promote stress coping capacity and resilience, including showing empathy and validating the normalcy of experiencing stress; building trust through visible action and sustained community engagement; providing information and actionable guidance; discussing stress carefully; fostering stress coping capacity and resilience with opportunities to build social capital and restore agency; and building capacity among government agencies and health care providers to address psychosocial stress. While communities affected by PFAS contamination will face unavoidable stressors, positive interactions with government responders and health care providers may help reduce negative stress. More research on how best to integrate community psychosocial health and stress coping and resilience concepts into the public health response to environmental contamination could be helpful in addressing these stressors.
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Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as ©2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).