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Gulf States Population Survey

This website is archived for historical purposes and is no longer being maintained or updated.

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The Gulf States Population Survey (GSPS) data are now available.

The GSPS was a 12-month (December 2010 to December 2011) telephone survey of adult residents in 25 Gulf coastal counties/parishes of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Results of the GSPS showed that people living in the coastal counties/parishes were more likely than those living in noncoastal counties/parishes to report decreased income or lost jobs because of the oil spill. However, when comparing coastal and noncoastal counties in the region, the GSPS did not indicate substantial differences in chronic physical or mental health conditions or health behaviors. In addition, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data collected in the same coastal counties/parishes between 2004 and 2010 were, for the most part, not substantially different from data collected in the year following the spill. All GSPS results are available in a report titled Behavioral Health in the Gulf Coast Region Following the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill published jointly with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).


On April 20, 2010, the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, spilling more than 4.9 million barrels of oil. Following the spill, an ongoing public health concern has been the effect on the mental and behavioral health of populations living in and around the Gulf region and the mental health services required to meet that need.

About the Survey

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) used the existing capacity and infrastructure of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) to conduct a separate survey designed to monitor the mental and behavioral health status of the population affected by the Deepwater Horizon event. The Gulf States Population Survey (GSPS) was a telephone survey conducted from December 15, 2010, to December 16, 2011 in selected Gulf Coast counties and comparison areas. The survey included questions taken from the ongoing BRFSS as well as additional questions taken from standardized scales or from other surveys designed to measure anxiety, depression, and potential stress-associated physical health effects.

CDC developed the survey questionnaire in partnership with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and state public health and mental health departments from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida where the survey was conducted. CDC’s Public Health Surveillance and Informatics Program Office (PHSIPO), Division of Behavioral Surveillance (DBS), administered the survey.

The objective of the survey is to provide state health departments, SAMHSA, and other appropriate organizations the data they need to assess the need for mental and behavioral health services in the targeted counties and to inform the provision of those services.

The telephone survey collected data from a random sample of households, which included landline and cellular telephones in the selected counties and comparison areas. The survey was available in English and Spanish. Adults 18 years or older were asked to take part in the survey, but only one adult per household was interviewed. Potential respondents were notified through an introductory script that participation was voluntary and they would not be compensated for participating. For those who agreed to participate, interviews lasted approximately 20 minutes.

The survey collected approximately 38,000 interviews by its end on December 16, 2011.

Survey Locations

Initially, coastal counties within 32 miles of an area where fishing was closed due to the Deepwater Horizon event were included in the targeted areas of the Gulf States Population Survey. These included the following Gulf Coast counties:

Louisiana: Assumption Parish, Calcasieu Parish, Cameron Parish, Iberia Parish, Jefferson Parish, Jefferson Davis Parish, Lafourche Parish, Orleans Parish, Plaquemines Parish, St. Bernard Parish, St. Charles Parish, St. Mary Parish, St. Tammany Parish, Tangipahoa Parish, Terrebonne Parish, Vermilion Parish;

Mississippi: Hancock County, Harrison County, Jackson County;

Alabama: Baldwin County, Mobile County; and

Florida: Escambia County, Okaloosa County, Santa Rosa County, Walton County.

In May 2011 the GSPS sample area was extended to the entirety of the four states (Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi) to allow comparison of results from the Gulf Coast counties to non-Gulf Coast counties.

Survey Results

You can find the results of the GSPS in a report titled Behavioral Health in the Gulf Coast Region Following the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill published jointly with SAMHSA at

There is also a summary of GSPS findings here.

About the BRFSS


  • is a state-based system of health surveys that collect information on risk behaviors, preventive health practices, and healthcare access primarily related to chronic disease and injury;
  • provides state-based prevalence of key behaviors that can have a wide effect on the entire nation; for many states, it is the only source of state-based data;
  • is conducted monthly in every state as well as the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands;
  • marked its 25th year of behavioral surveillance in 2010; and
  • is the gold standard of behavioral surveillance and works with countries around the globe to help them establish and maintain similar systems. These countries include Brazil, China, Jordan, Italy, Australia, and Sri Lanka.