Date of Conferral
Effects of hydraulic fracturing (HF) have become a controversial public health issue in the United States. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore community members' perceptions of economic, health, and environmental effects of HF in Gibson County, Indiana. The conceptual framework was adapted from the health belief model and was named the HF health impact belief model (HFHIBM). Data were collected from stratified purposeful non-randomly selected 32 Gibson community members, using semi structured questionnaires, complete observations, and existing documents. Stratification was based on factors influencing perception, such as, gender, race, level of education, age or technology exposure, and level of media use. The observed community showed no economic boom or prevalent diseases, with functional and few abandoned pump jacks located on some of the farmlands. Data collected from the returned questionnaires were analyzed using hand coding and software. The results revealed that 72% of participants lacked awareness of HF, 90.6% reported lack of involvement in the decision-making process to locate HF near their community, and 21.6% of the 40.6% of participants with awareness reported that HF should be continued if the benefits outweigh the negative effects. Based on the constructs of HFHIBM, the low awareness of HF has implications on the community's acceptance of HF, and the use of sustainable and environmentally safe alternatives may result in better acceptance of HF. Increased awareness of HF may lead to the development of environmentally friendly, sustainable preventive actions, better community health outcomes such as reduced morbidity and mortality rates, and improved drinking water quality in neighboring communities.