Fracked: coal seam gas extraction and farmers' mental health

Methuen I. Morgan*, Donald W. Hine, Navjot Bhullar, Debra A. Dunstan, Warren Bartik

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Farmers are exposed to a unique range of vocational stressors, and while mental health morbidity is similar to their non-rural counterparts, suicide rates in the farming community are higher. We examined the contribution of coal seam gas (CSG) extraction to the global stress burden and mental health of 378 Australian farmers (mean age = 53.08 years; SD = 10.28). Exploratory factor analysis revealed that CSG items added two unique dimensions to the Edinburgh Farming Stress Inventory (EFSI): Off-Farm CSG Concerns (concerns about possible impacts of CSG extraction on human health, communities, and the environment) and On-Farm CSG Concerns (potential CSG impacts on farm profitability, disruption of farm operations, and privacy). Subscales based on the new factors correlated significantly with farmers' self-reported levels of depression, anxiety and stress reactivity, as assessed by the DASS-21. Latent profile analysis categorized farmers into four distinct segments based on their overall stress profiles: Non Stressed (39%), Finance-Stressed (31%), CSG-Stressed (15%) and Globally-Stressed (15%). Farmers in the CSG-Stressed and Globally-Stressed profiles exhibited clinically significant levels of psychological morbidity. This information can be used to inform strategies for improving mental health outcomes in the agrigas-fields of Australia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-32
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Environmental Psychology
Volume47
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Stress
  • Coal seam gas
  • Coal bed methane
  • Farmers
  • Mental health

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