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GuLFSTUDY (Gulf Long Term Follow-Up Study)
The GuLFSTUDY Program is designed to study the health of workers and volunteers who responded to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is leading this research with the support of many local community groups. The GuLFSTUDY is designed to find answers to the questions that matter to oil spill response and clean-up workers and affected communities.
Between 2011 and 2013, about 33,000 participants joined the study by completing a telephone interview, making it the largest study ever conducted on the health effects of an oil spill. Participants include adults ages 21 and over who helped with the oil spill clean up, took training, signed up to work, or were sent to the Gulf to help in some way. More than 11,000 of the participants from the five Gulf coast states completed home examinations, which included additional questionnaires and collection of biological and environmental samples.
The GuLFSTUDY Program examines how different aspects of oil spill response and clean-up may affect current and future health. The study also examines how stress and job loss because of the oil spill can affect health, including mental health. By comparing workers doing specific clean up jobs to others who did not do those jobs, we can learn if health problems are occurring at a higher rate than expected among some groups of workers. The findings from the study may influence long-term public health responses in Gulf communities or responses to other oil spills in the future.
The GuLFSTUDY tracks the health of participants by conducting follow-up telephone interviews that include detailed health questionnaires. The first follow-up was carried out from 2013 to 2016. More than 19,000 study participants completed a telephone interview. In addition, over 3,500 individuals who lived within 60 miles of a study clinic in Mobile, AL or New Orleans LA completed a comprehensive clinical research study exam. The study clinic exams included tests of lung and neurological function, physiological measurements, additional collection of biological samples, and questionnaires on physical and mental health. A second follow-up was carried out from 2017 to 2021. More than 14,000 participants completed the second follow-up telephone interviews.