Modelling psychosocial effects of exposure to solid waste facilities
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A parallel case study design was used to investigate psychosocial effects in populations exposed to solid waste facilities. Psychosocial effects were defined as a complex of distress, dysfunction and disability, manifested in a range of psychological, social and behavioural outcomes, as a consequence of actual or perceived environmental contamination. This paper presents the results of logistic regression analyses designed to identify determinants of psychosocial effects of exposure. The data come from an epidemiologic survey of residents (N = 696) living within a prescribed radius from each of three solid waste facilities in southern Ontario. The analytical model has three main components: external variables (e.g. individual and exposure-related variables); mediating variables (e.g. social network membership and involvement, general health status measures); and outcome variables (e.g. concern, effects and actions). Results for a series of site specific analyses show that outcome measures can be successfully explained by a combination of external and mediating factors. In general, variables from each of the three main components enter the concern-related models while the action models are clearly dominated by social network variables. Analyses using data from all three sites indicate the explanatory power of site-related characteristics. However, given the number and diversity of variables in the models, there is no support for a simple cause and effect relationship. The implication is that strategies aimed to address and alleviate psychosocial effects need to be specific to the characteristics of the populations in particular settings.
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