Dr. Troy Quast to examine effects of Hurricane Katrina on senior diabetics

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USF College of Public Health’s Dr. Troy Quast has received an award from the NIH National Institute on Aging to examine how Hurricane Katrina affected the health of seniors with diabetes.

The two-year, $74,750 grant for “Short- and Long-Term Effects of Disasters on Seniors with Chronic Conditions” will consist of retrospective data analysis using Medicare data.

Funding begins August 2016 and concludes April 2018.

Quast said he will examine Medicare data of seniors who were living in areas impacted by Hurricane Katrina, analyzing all aspects of care, from physician visits to prescriptions.

Louisiana's New Levee

Home damaged by Hurricane Katrina. (Photo courtesy of ThinkStock)

“Hopefully, it will be useful in helping to better preempt negative health consequences,” Quast said. “Ideally, I’ll find that there were no long-term health consequences of being affected by Katrina, but realistically there is likely to be some kind of effect.”

More than 29 million individuals in the U.S. had diabetes in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2014 National Diabetes Statistics Report.

Quast, an associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, has an interest in analyzing the effects disasters have on health utilization and outcomes.

Troy Quast

Troy Quast, PhD (Photo courtesy of Dr. Troy Quast)

“The interesting part of this project is that it looks at longer term effects,” Quast said. “Once you’re in Medicare, you’re in Medicare for life, and so we can follow those individuals farther into life, and, now, ten years after Katrina.”

Hurricane Katrina reached Category 5 intensity and made landfall on August 29, 2005, becoming the deadliest U.S. hurricane since 1928, according to the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Data will be accessed remotely and Quast will be in contact with the Florida Department of Health’s Office of Public Health Preparedness during the process.

“The idea is to try to operationalize my results,” Quast said. “I will share my findings with DOH officials and work with them to come up with some policy or procedural recommendations to mitigate the effects of future disasters on seniors.”

Quast said he hopes to have a long-running research agenda focused on the long-term effects of disasters on health following this project.


Story by Anna Mayor, USF College of Public Health