Archive for the 'Population Health & Health Disparities' Category

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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

HIV outbreak in rural Indiana

Danielle Paquette reports on a recent HIV outbreak in Austin, Indiana and what it shows about the mobility of HIV, poverty and the lack of health care in rural areas.

Education and Health

The Connector, the NIH OBSSR’s blog, has a couple of posts examining the links between education and health. The first one, Contextualizing the link between education and health, discusses the results of a partnership between the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research and Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies which resulted in two workshops and a special issue of Social Science and Medicine, “Educational Attainment and Adult Health: Contextualizing Causality“.

In the second post, Compulsory schooling and health: What the evidence says, Lauren Fordyce looks at the impact of compulsory education on health outcomes.

Mapping Social Security Benefits

Wonkblog highlights four maps created by Seth Kadish of Vizual Statistix.

The maps show … the percentage of a county’s population that receives OASDI benefits; the percentage of OASDI beneficiaries who are retired, rather than disabled; the areas where payments to men most greatly outweigh those given to women; and the average monthly OASDI payment, in hundreds of dollars.

More fun with names

Who knew that the name Violet was such a good example of a bi-modal distribution?

bi-modal

This was drawn from a very fun post:

How to Tell Someone’s Age When All You Know is Her Name
Nate Silver and Allison McCann | FiveThirtyEight blog
May 29, 2014

We had a previous post on fun with the Social Security names database.

This age of names example is a great applied demography exercise – calculating the median age of names. For that you’ll need a link to the full names database and cohort life tables:

Beyond the Top 1000 Names
Cohort Life Tables for the Social Security Areas by Calendar Year

Here’s also a nice link to some Big Data exercises via Python. There is a lot of code sharing in this GitHub repository.

Alcohol’s Hold on Campus: Report from the Chronicle of Higher Education

Alcohol is an entrenched reality of campus life. Read and share this collection of articles on college drinking to inform colleagues and campus discussions, beginning with “A River of Booze: Inside one college town’s uneasy embrace of drinking” by Karin Fischer and Eric Hoover.

The Uninsured Under the ACA

By: Jason Millman
Source: WonkBlog (Washington Post)

An additional 10.3 million people gained health insurance in the first year of expanded coverage under the Affordable Care Act, according to an analysis published in the New England Journal of Medicine this summer. We still won’t have the most official count from the U.S. Census Bureau until next fall, but that’s the number the Obama administration is using. And that, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, leaves about 32 million people still lacking coverage heading into this ACA open enrollment period.

Here’s what we know about who’s still uninsured and what’s kept them from getting covered.

Keep reading
NEJM Analysis

A Strong Sense of Purpose Can Extend Life

By: Robert Preidt
Source: U.S. News & World Report (HealthDay News)

FRIDAY, Nov. 7, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Another study finds that having a sense of meaning and purpose in your life might do more than just give you focus — it might help you live longer, too.

The study, involving more than 9,000 British people averaging 65 years of age, found that those who professed to feeling worthwhile and having a sense of purpose in life were less likely to die during the more than eight years the researchers tracked them.

Over the study period, 9 percent of people with the highest levels of this type of well-being died, compared with 29 percent of those with the lowest levels, according to the report in the Nov. 7 issue of The Lancet.

The study comes on the heels of similar research published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In that study, a team led by Eric Kim of the University of Michigan found that older adults with a strong sense of purpose in life may be particularly likely to get health screenings such as colonoscopies and mammograms.

U.S. News & World Report story
Eric Kim’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences article
Lancet article (in press)

You’ll live longer than you think you will [HRS data]

Recent research based on an original question in the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) shows how few folks felt they would live to 75 (at age 50). There is also an association with the low probability folks dying earlier than the high probability folks.

Popular press coverage and a Brookings publication below:

You’ll probably live much longer than you think you will
Christopher Ingraham | Washington Post [Wonkblog]
November 10, 2014

Better Financial Security in Retirement? Realizing the Promise of Longevity Annuities
Katharine Abraham and Benjamin Harris | Brookings
November 6, 2014
Abstract | Full Paper

Research on Health Disparities: Incarceration Matters

High Incarceration Rates among Black Men Enrolled in Clinical Studies may Compromise Ability to Identify Disparities
Emily Wang, et.al. | Health Affairs
May 13, 2014
html | pdf

This is a nice note, which examines the selectivity introduced into studies when participants are lost to a study due to incarceration – primarily black men. The paper discusses a suggested change in the IRB regulations on studying prisoners, which would help address this selectivity issue. The Vox article below discusses the history of IRB rules, given that this would not be common knowledge among a more general reader pool.

Doctors can’t research the health of black men, because they keep getting sent to prison
Dara Lind | Vox
May 13, 2014