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Socioeconomic Disparities in Young Adult Health - Subontract

a PSC Research Project [ARCHIVE DISPLAY]

Investigators:   Narayan Sastry, George A. Kaplan

Socioeconomic Disparities in Young Adult Health

In the United States, large and persistent disparities in health exist across the life course. Reducing these disparities is a top priority for policymakers and the public. Of particular importance, from a public health perspective, are disparities in chronic diseases. Collectively, chronic diseases--including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes--represent the largest component of the total burden of disease and premature mortality in the United States. At the same time, chronic diseases are the major contributor to racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in both the quantity and quality of life. Although chronic diseases are manifested during the prime adult ages and in old age, their precursors are apparent much earlier in the life course. In addition, chronic diseases in later life are related to health behaviors and outcomes at earlier ages.

In this project, we will examine the emergence of chronic disease during the early adult years, focusing in particular on disparities by socioeconomic status (SES). There are three specific aims. First, we will describe socioeconomic disparities in young adult biological and behavioral indicators of chronic disease risk. Second, we will examine the relationship between childhood and adolescent social, demographic, and economic factors--measured at multiple contextual levels and over time--and young adult disparities in chronic disease risk. Finally, we will investigate the biobehavioral pathways through which pre-adult sociodemographic and economic factors influence disparities in chronic disease risk, including the cumulative effects of health behaviors during adolescence and the transition to adulthood.

We will use data from all four waves of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). The Add Health data are ideally suited for this study. Wave IV of Add Health will include multiple biological and behavioral health status measures from a diverse and nationally representative sample of nearly 17,000 young adults who have been followed since 1994-95. By integrating social, behavioral, and biological measures within a longitudinal design, these data will provide new opportunities to characterize the predisease pathways leading to health disparities in early adulthood.

Funding Period: 09/30/2009 to 08/31/2012

Country of Focus: USA

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