Feinstein Institute to Study the Psychological Effects of Hurricane Sandy Using $600,000 Grant

Manhasset, NY – The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research announced today it will receive a $600,398 grant from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to study the psychological impact of Hurricane Sandy on affected individuals throughout Long Island and New York City.

Emanuela Taioli, MD, PhD, and Rebecca Schwartz, PhD, will lead the research project, Project LIGHT, in conjunction with Lisa Murphy, commissioner of the Nassau County Department of Human Services. Using various psychological health measures, as well as analyzing health system Emergency Department data, investigators hope to both quantify the psychological impact of the hurricane and develop a profile to identify vulnerable populations and address their needs.

Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast of the US on Oct. 28 last year, affecting the lives and well-being of more than 50 million people. More than 370,000 people in the greater New York City area were evacuated, almost 3 million people were without power and 1.1 million students missed school, some for up to two weeks. The psychological devastation of the hurricane, along with the physical consequences of being displaced, major loss of property, flooding, mold, prolonged lack of heat, water and power, are unknown. Estimates can be drawn from anecdotal reports from health providers, first responders, hospitals and shelters, but reliable data is lacking, in particular on the psychological effects of the storm and its aftermath.

“This project is a first, integral step in understanding the short- and long-term mental health effects of natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy and will readily inform future prevention and emergency preparedness efforts in our local communities,” said Dr. Schwartz.

In their study, Drs. Taioli, Schwartz, and their research team will conduct an epidemiologic study that includes administering mental health measures to consenting participants more than 18 years old across New York City and Long Island. The team will also analyze changes in emergency department mental health admissions prior to, during and after the hurricane. The combined results will enable the team to develop an understanding of populations most vulnerable to mental health difficulties due to natural disasters.

Commissioner Lisa Murphy will be an integral collaborator. She and the Department of Human Services staff will facilitate study implementation and the dissemination of results to community residents as well as the many agencies involved with disaster preparedness in the area.

The Feinstein Institute will receive the research money over two years. The study is one of several projects, costing a total of more than $4.3 million, approved for funding by the CDC.  All were selected through a rigorous scientific review process conducted according to National Institutes of Health standards. Scientists and other stakeholders evaluated the scientific merit, methodological rigor and expertise of the teams submitting proposals in response to the Hurricane Sandy funding announcement.

All awards were approved pending completion of a business review by CDC staff and issuance of a formal award contract.

About the CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the primary Federal agency for conduction and supporting public health activities in the United States.

CDC’s focus is not only on scientific excellence, but also on the essential spirit that is CDC-to protect the health of all people. CDC keeps humanity at the forefront of its mission to ensure health protection through promotion, prevention and preparedness. More information is available at www.cdc.gov.

About the Nassau County Department of Human Services      

The Nassau County Department of Human Services provides the residents of Nassau County with a constituent centered and holistic approach to the delivery of services and information through and between its Office for the Aging, Office of Mental Health, Chemical Dependency, and Developmental Disabilities Service, Office for the Physically Challenged, and Office of Youth Services. The department facilitates the sharing and exchange of knowledge, skill, and professionalism in a comprehensive and integrated manner. Additionally, the Department of Human Services works closely with, and enjoys a collaborative relationship with many non-profit and community-based organizations throughout the county. For more information, please visit our website.

About The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research

Headquartered in Manhasset, NY, The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research is home to international scientific leaders in many areas including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, psychiatric disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, sepsis, human genetics, pulmonary hypertension, leukemia, neuroimmunology, and medicinal chemistry. The Feinstein Institute, part of the North Shore-LIJ Health System, ranks in the top 6th percentile of all National Institutes of Health grants awarded to research centers. For more information, visit www.FeinsteinInstitute.org.

Media Contact:
Emily Ng