Understanding the long-term impact of flooding on health and wellbeing

28 September 2022
A new study undertaken by researchers at Hull York Medical School and the University of Hull has demonstrated that the financial, emotional and health impact of the 2007 floods in Hull are still being felt 11 years on. The study recommends that public health agencies to come together to proactively support those families affected by flooding.

The study was led by Dr Maureen Twiddy, Senior Lecturer in Mixed Methods at Hull York Medical School and the University of Hull, and was co-authored by Dr Sam Ramsden, from the Energy and Environment Institute and Brendan Trump, a fifth year Medicine student at Hull York Medical School. The study examined the extent to which being flooded in the past is associated with ongoing concerns about flooding and the impact of this on health and wellbeing. It analysed data collected by Dr Sam Ramsden as part of a previous collaborative research project between the Living with Water partnership and the Energy and Environment Institute at the University of Hull which looked at the impact of flooding on those affected. The survey was conducted in 2018 to establish a baseline of flood resilience in the local community to help Living with Water monitor and evaluate the impacts of its work.   

Dr Twiddy says: "Despite the floods happening in Hull over a decade ago, many of those affected continue to experience high levels of anxiety when storms are forecast." 

The study looked at responses from 457 households, of whom 48% were affected by flooding. Twenty percent of all respondents were very concerned about future flooding, with levels of concern significantly higher amongst those who had been flooded in 2007. Whilst some residents were reassured by the introduction of the new flood alleviation schemes built around the city, others felt they might not be adequate for their local area, and worried about the impact of climate change. The financial and emotional impacts of the floods still resonated with families 11 years after the event, with many fearing they would not cope if it happened again. 

The study also questioned whether, in light of climate change, if residents are unrealistic in their expectations to be ‘protected’ from flood events. 

Dr Twiddy goes on to say: "The long-term impact of the floods on residents is clear – financially, emotionally, and in terms of health and wellbeing.  Public health agencies need to be able to mobilise organisations to come together to pro-actively support families affected by flooding. This will ensure those in need do not fall through the gaps of public health delivery."  

Hull York Medical School and the University of Hull have a strong reputation for health research. This research is changing the way health conditions are understood, diagnosed and treated within this region and further afield.  

Twiddy M, Trump B, Ramsden S (2022) Understanding the long-term impact of flooding on the wellbeing of residents: A mixed methods study. PLoS ONE 17(9): e0274890. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0274890

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