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Soc Sci Med. 1991;33(4):441-7.

Psychosocial impacts in populations exposed to solid waste facilities.

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Department of Geography, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.


This interdisciplinary study uses a parallel case study design to investigate psychosocial impacts in populations exposed to three solid waste facilities in Southern Ontario. Impacts are examined at three social scales: individual, social network and community levels. The objectives and design derive from a feasibility study recently completed by the same research team. A two stage approach is adopted. The first is an epidemiologic survey to determine the prevalence of psychosocial impacts in the populations within a prescribed area around each site. A disproportionate stratified (by distance) random sample of 250 households is surveyed at each site. Data on awareness, knowledge, concern and action regarding the site are also obtained. Scores on pre-validated health measurement scales will be compared with population norms to determine the frequency distribution above, within and below the range of normal. The second stage involves the use of qualitative methodologies to provide an in-depth analysis of the individual, social network and community level factors affecting psychosocial impacts and reactions to the situation. Depth interviews with a sub-sample of survey respondents explore individual perceptions, attitudes and actions. Focus groups composed of members of relevant organizations and discussion groups comprising non-members uncover social network and community perspectives in an interactional setting. Interviews and group sessions are taped and transcribed for content analysis of salient themes. Textual analysis of media reports and other relevant documentation provide insights regarding the informational environment and the community context of the issues.

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