Archive for the 'Health, Disability & Mortality' Category

What Death by Natural Causes Means

Mona Chalabi of FiveThirtyEight examines the way the term “natural causes” is used by the CDC as a euphemism for a variety of causes of death.

According to the latest CDC data, 2,596,993 people died in the U.S. in 2013. The vast majority of those deaths, 92.5 percent, were of natural causes. Thankfully, the data is more detailed than that, though — there are 46 categories of natural causes of death listed, as well as 44 subcategories. In the chart below, I’ve summarized the 10 natural causes responsible for the most deaths in 2013.

The Geography of Childhood

Emily Badger and Christopher Ingraham of Wonkblog use data from the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count to map the best and worst states for children on a variety of indicators, including poverty, food security, housing, family structure, education, exercise, and incarceration rates.

See also, The growing wealth gap that nobody is talking about.

Teen Smoking and Cigarette Price

Andrew Flowers of FiveThirtyEight examines recent studies on teen smoking and reports that the link between the cost of cigarettes and the teen smoking rate has weakened in recent years. Flowers discusses theories about why this happened and what it could mean for policy.

Apple Research Kit: New Frontiers in Data Collection & Informed Consent

The Apple Research Kit allows researchers to develop an iPhone app, which interested respondents can download from the Apple Store. The respondent goes through an on-line consent form and then responds to questions, tasks (walking), etc. Some of the diagnostic tools are based on previously developed apps from the Apple Healthkit.

As of now, apps have been developed for collecting data for research projects on asthma, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s, mind, body, and wellness after breast cancer, and for a population-based study, the LGBTQ population.

Here is a description of the informed consent process for these iPhone apps:
Participant-Centered Consent Toolkit

Listed below are a few press releases associated with the Pride Study – the population based study of the gay population. Following those posts are some more general critiques of this way of gathering data. The post from the Verge is probably the most critical raising issues of “on the internet no one knows you are a dog” and gaming the consent process (lying about eligibility for the study). On the plus side, the participant pool is going to be easier to sign up and won’t be limited to those who live close to research hospitals. Here is an excerpt from Business Insider to the reaction to the app launch for the Stanford Heart study:

It’s really incredible … in the first 24 hours of research kit we’ve had 11,000 people sign up for a study in cardiovascular disease through Stanford University’s app. And, to put that in perspective – Stanford has told us that it would have taken normally 50 medical centers an entire year to sign up that many participants. So, this is – research kit is an absolute game changer.

The participant pool is limited to iPhone users (no android version of these apps), although some will have a web interface (the Pride Study).

Launch of the Pride Study
UCSF Researchers Launch Landmark Study of LGBTQ Community Health
Jyoti Madhusoodanan | UCSF Press Release
June 25, 2015

A big LGBT health study is coming to the iPhone
Stephanie M. Lee | BuzzFeed
June 25, 2015

How The iPhone Is Powering A Massive LGBT Health Study
Kif Leswing | International Business Times
June 25, 2015

Critiques of the Apple ResearchKit
Apple’s new ResearchKit: ‘Ethics quagmire’ or medical research aid?
Arielle Duhaime-Ross | The Verge
March 10, 2015

In-Depth: Apple ResearchKit concerns, potential, analysis
mobilehealthnews
March 9, 2015

PRB Webinar: Extreme Poverty and Health in the United State

When: Thursday, June 11, 2015, 1:00-2:30 pm (EDT)
Register: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2329568637789737218

From the e-mail invitation:

Studies show that a growing number of U.S. families have incomes so low that the difficulties of their living situations may be masked by thinking of the poor as a homogeneous group. For instance, since the mid-1990s the number of families living on less than $2.00 in cash per person per day has more than doubled. Over the same interval, a smaller share of government social welfare spending has gone to the deeply poor.

This webinar will address issues such as how these families subsist, what public assistance they receive, and what their health challenges are. It will feature presentations from key Johns Hopkins researchers on this topic: sociologist Kathryn Edin, economist Robert Moffitt, and epidemiologist Jacky Jennings. It will be moderated by sociologist Andrew Cherlin.

Their presentations will be followed by 10-15 minutes of Q&A.

This webinar is co-hosted by the Hopkins Population Center and PRB’s Center for Public Information on Population Research, with funding from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Joining the online webinar is free. Participants who choose to listen to the audio via telephone are responsible for their own standard long-distance rates.

Breastfeeding

Emily Oster of FiveThirtyEight examines various claims about the benefits of breastfeeding:

If one takes the claims seriously, it is not difficult to conclude that breastfed babies are all thin, rich geniuses who love their mothers and are never sick a day in their lives while formula-fed babies become overweight, low-IQ adults who hate their parents and spend most of their lives in the hospital.

The truth is complicated.

Life Expectancy in Baltimore

Christopher Ingraham of Wonkblog compares the life expectancies in Baltimore neighborhoods to each other and to countries around the world.

See also: The long, painful and repetitive history of how Baltimore became Baltimore.

Mentally Ill and in Prison

Ana Swanson of Wonkblog examines the “shocking number of mentally ill Americans…in prison instead of treatment“:

According to a report by the Treatment Advocacy Center…American prisons and jails housed an estimated 356,268 inmates with several mental illness in 2012—on par with the population of Anchorage, Alaska, or Trenton, New Jersey. That figure is more than 10 times the number of mentally ill patients in state psychiatric hospitals in the same year—about 35,000 people.

Gender Gap in the U.S. Black Population

According to Justin Wolfers, David Leonhardt and Kevin Quealy of The Upshot, there are roughly 1.5 million black men missing from the 25 to 54 age group due to incarceration and early death. “For every 100 black women in this age group living outside of jail, there are only 83 black men. Among whites, the equivalent number is 99, nearly parity.”

Read the full story and here is the methodology.

Income Inequality and Health

The New York Times Upshot looks at the County Health Rankings and Roadmap Project from University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation which studies income inequality and health at the county level.

We know that living in a poor community makes you less likely to live a long life. New evidence suggests that living in a community with high income inequality also seems to be bad for your health.

A study from researchers at the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute examined a series of risk factors that help explain the health (or sickness) of counties in the United States. In addition to the suspects you might expect — a high smoking rate, a lot of violent crime — the researchers found that people in unequal communities were more likely to die before the age of 75 than people in more equal communities, even if the average incomes were the same.

H/T Data Detectives