Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

The Impact Of Socioeconomic Factors On The Racial Gap In Life Expectancy

While I believe there that there is no simple cause-effect explanation for life expectancy, there are striking correlations (as income levels) that need to be addressed to promote justice for all of us…

From the 11 April 2011 article at Medical News Today

Differences in factors such as income, education and marital status could contribute overwhelmingly to the gap in life expectancy between blacks and whites in the United States, according to one of the first studies to put a number on how much of the divide can be attributed to disparities in socioeconomic characteristics.

A Princeton University study recently published in the journal Demography reveals that socioeconomic differences can account for 80 percent of the life-expectancy divide between black and white men, and for 70 percent of the imbalance between black and white women.

Numerous existing studies on the topic have found that mortality differences are associated with certain socioeconomic disparities, but have not determined to what extent the life expectancy gap can be explained by such contrasts, noted author Michael Geruso, a doctoral student in Princeton’s Department of Economics. …

 

April 11, 2012 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Among The Poor Physical Functioning Declines More Rapidly

 

US residents without health insurance in %; U....

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From a November 9, 2011 article at Medical News Today

A new national study shows that wealthier Americans and those with private health insurance fare better than others on one important measure of health – and this health gap only grows wider as they age.

Researchers found that, when the study began, middle-aged and older Americans with more income and assets reported having less trouble with five activities of daily living: walking across a room, bathing, eating, dressing and getting in and out of bed. …

…The data in this study can’t answer the question of how socioeconomic status and private health insurance help protect people’s physical functioning, Richardson said. But the results fit with other studies that suggest that economically disadvantaged people may not be able to afford medications they need, or may take steps to make their prescriptions last longer, like cutting pills in half.

They may also skip diagnostic tests that could help identify disease earlier, when it is more treatable. This may be especially true for those who lack private health insurance that can help pay for expensive testing.

“One of the first questions many elderly adults ask when their doctors order tests is ‘will my insurance cover it?’ Richardson says.

Richardson said the findings suggest that our public health care policies need to consider how people’s economic resources will change their physical functioning as they age.

“Our policies need to incorporate a life course perspective. We need to find way to prevent the rapid deterioration in physical functioning that is more likely among those who have fewer resources.”

Read the entire article

November 12, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Number Of Deaths In The US Can Be Linked To Social Factors

From the 16 June 2011 Medical News Today site

Published in the American Journal of Public Health, a new study *** calculates the number of deaths attributable to social factors in the United States, finding a broader way to conceptualize the causes of mortality.

Researchers estimated the number of deaths in the United States attributable to social factors, using a systematic review of the available literature combined with vital statistics data. They conducted a MEDLINE search for all English-language articles published between 1980 and 2007 with estimates of the relation between social factors and adult all-cause mortality. After calculating for the relative risk estimates of mortality, researchers obtained estimates for each social factor. Individual social factors included education, poverty, health insurance status, employment status and jobstress, social support, racism or discrimination, housing conditions and early childhood stressors. Area-level social factors included area-level poverty, income inequality, deteriorating built environment, racial segregation, crime and violence, social capital and availability of open or green spaces.

They found that approximately 245,000 deaths in the United States in 2000 were attributable to low education, 176,000 to racial segregation, 162,000 to low social support, 133,000 to individual-level poverty, 119,000 to income inequality and 39,000 to area-level poverty. …

***For suggestions on how to get this article for free or at low cost, click here

June 20, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Income Disparity Makes People Unhappy

From the 13 June 2011 Medical News Today article

Many economists and sociologists have warned of the social dangers of a wide gap between the richest and everyone else. Now, a new study, which will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, adds a psychological reason to narrow the disparity – it makes people unhappy.

Over the last 40 years, “we’ve seen that people seem to be happier when there is more equality,” says University of Virginia psychologist Shigehiro Oishi, who conducted the study with Virginia colleague Selin Kesebir and Ed Diener of the University of Illinois. “Income disparity has grown a lot in the U.S., especially since the 1980s. With that, we’ve seen a marked drop in life satisfaction and happiness.” The findings hold true for about 60 percent of Americans-people in the lower and moderate income brackets. …

…The conclusions: That grim mood cannot be attributed to thinner pocketbooks during periods of greater inequality-though those pocketbooks were thinner. Rather, the gap between people’s own fortunes and those of people who are better off is correlated with feelings that other people are less fair and less trustworthy, and this results in a diminished sense of wellbeing in general.

June 14, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , | Leave a comment

   

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