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Memorial's School of Nursing leading study on resource depletion and health

Ref. No. 169

DATE:     July 19, 2002
SUBJECT:     Memorial's School of Nursing leading study on resource depletion and health

The School of Nursing at Memorial University is undertaking research that is close to home. The Natural Resource Depletion and Health project will look at how the health of people in coastal communities in Newfoundland has been affected by the post-fishery crisis. The project will also look at communities in Cape Breton where the mines have closed to compare the impact on single industry towns of the depletion of different resources - mining and fishing -- on personal and community health.

Principal investigator and project director Dr. Lan Gien said the project will study health issues in selected communities. "There are many variables that affect health, depending on how well the community copes with adversity. We want to look at how individuals and communities cope, see by what measures they address their difficulties and in general learn what factors promote community resiliency, the ability to bounce back from adversity."

Communities in the study are Fogo Island, Trepassey, the headlands of Bonavista, and the isthmus of Avalon. In Cape Breton, New Waterford will be the study community. The project also has international dimensions - investigators include Dr. Maritta Vatimaki, Turku & Tampere Universities in Finland and Dr. Dang Phuong Kiet, Vietnam. In Canada, besides Dr. Gien, the project investigators are co-director Dr. Maureen Laryea, Nursing, Dr. Carole Orchard, Nursing, Dr. Michael Murray, Community Health, Dr. Albert Kozma, Psychology, Dr. William Kennedy, Education, Neil Tilley and David MacDonald of the Community Development Co-operative Society Ltd, and in Nova Scotia Breton, and Stacey Lewis of the Cape Breton Wellness Centre.

"This isn't just an academic exercise -- we want to understand the situations that communities encounter and play a part in changing those situations," said Dr. Gien. "Members of the community will be involved in the data collection process and will be part of the final outcomes devising a process to return the knowledge that will be gained from the project to the communities from which it came. Through a series of forums and community meetings we'll try, along with the communities, to analyse the situations that they face and to devise strategies better to cope with adversity. "

About 1,500 interviews will be conducted in the five locations. "The interviews concern health matters, which naturally many people consider very personal, but the process is designed to protect confidentiality," said Dr.Gien.

The Natural Resource Depletion and Health project is being funded over three years for $673,700 by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. For further information on this project, visit www.mun.ca/cin/.


For further information contact Dr. Lan Gien, School of Nursing, 777-6276.


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