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Coretopic:Social Determinants/Disparities

New Tip Sheet

Housing and health

Broaden the conversation about health care to include questions about social support – especially safe, affordable and stable housing. See it now »

New Key Concept

Health be­hav­ior and social posi­tion

People whose socio­eco­nomic status is low are more likely to act in ways that harm their health. See it now »

New How I Did It

Rx for the Bronx

Radio series looks beyond medical care for New York’s least healthy county: WNYC reporter Amanda Aronczyk was new to health reporting when she got the assignment. See it now »

Topic overview

The poor live shorter lives than the rich, and this link between income and health has been well documented for more than 150 years.

But up until the 1980s, most research on health inequality focused on the effects of poverty. Studies generally assumed that higher rates of illness and death among the poor arose from material deprivation (lack of medical care, inadequate food, greater exposure to pollution). And public policy hinged on the assumption that there must be a threshold at which further increases in income have little or no effect on health.

That changed with the Whitehall Study, a decades-long survey comparing the health and life spans of 17,000 British civil servants of differing pay grades.



Inside look: Rhiannon Meyers takes you behind diabetes&nbsp;coverage<br /><span>uploaded July 26, 2013</span>

The Caller-Times is midway through its yearlong series examining the scourge of diabetes in the Coastal Bend. Reporter Rhiannon Meyers discusses what the series has discovered so far. She will also share what's to come, including a piece coming this Sunday that will take readers inside the operating room for a behind-the-scenes look at weight loss surgery and its effect on Type 2 diabetes.

Metzl: Income inequality is making Americans&nbsp;sick<br /><span>uploaded February 10, 2014</span>

Income inequality is making Americans sick, according to a groundbreaking Social Science and Medicine article coauthored by Jonathan Metzl. Traditionally, U.S. physicians are trained to diagnose their patients' illnesses through attention to biological systems. But Metzl, director of Vanderbilt's Center for Medicine, Health, and Society, and Helena Hansen, a professor of psychiatry and anthropology at New York University, contend that training in biology alone leaves doctors woefully unprepared for understanding how people's health is determined as much by their zip code as their genetic code. Writing in February issue of Social Science and Medicine, Metzl and Hansen introduce a novel, five-step way of training physicians based in a method called "structural competency." Structural competency teaches doctors to better recognize how medical issues such as hypertension, depression and obesity sometimes represent the downstream effects of societal decisions about such factors as food distribution networks, transit systems, or urban or rural infrastructure. And it promotes societal engagement "beyond the walls of the clinic" by the medical profession. (read more at www.news.vanderbilt.edu search Metzl.) To learn more about Vanderbilt, visit http://www.vanderbilt.edu.

Why Education Matters to Health: Exploring the&nbsp;Causes<br /><span>uploaded April 29, 2014</span>

In one disadvantaged Richmond community, educational opportunities are a lifeline for community residents to better health, yet the relationship between education and health is often complex. See how the Engaging Richmond partnership, a group of community researchers, is collaborating with VCU's Center on Society and Health to explore this complex relationship and raise awareness about the important connections between education and health. Created by the VCU Center on Society and Health with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, this video is part of the Education and Health Initiative, a larger project aiming to increase awareness and understanding of the important connections between education and health. More detailed information is available at http://www.rwjf.org/EducationMatters.


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Upcoming events on Social Determinants/Disparities from the AHCJ calendar.

  • Sep

    Why We Can't Wait: Conference to Eliminate Health Disparities in Genomic Medicine

    Learn about the impact of genomic medicine on health disparities and efforts to maximize its advantages and minimize its harms:  "Reporters will hear about the latest medical genetics research; have the opportunity to interact with doctors, genetic counselors, public health specialists, and community members to discuss what is happening right now in genomic medicine to remedy or exacerbate health disparities."

  • Sep

    ACA implementation and its impact on people with diabetes

    Join the Endocrine Society for a timely discussion on the economic burden of diabetes and the anticipated impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) on patient care. Leaders from the NIH, CDC, academia and industry will explore the benefits and challenges the ACA poses for people with diabetes.

  • Oct

    How Housing Matters Conference

    This conference will explore how having stable, secure, and affordable housing affects child development and education, physical and mental health, and long-term economic success.

  • Oct

    Environmental Stressors in Disease and Implications for Human Health

    Hear experts present new research on the ways that early-life exposures can shape adult health and vulnerability to disease.

  • Nov

    American Public Health Association Annual Meeting

    APHA's meeting program addresses current and emerging health science, policy, and practice issues in an effort to prevent disease and promote health.

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