Concept: Population health
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
- Published 11 months ago
Social interactions increasingly take place online. Friendships and other offline social ties have been repeatedly associated with human longevity, but online interactions might have different properties. Here, we reference 12 million social media profiles against California Department of Public Health vital records and use longitudinal statistical models to assess whether social media use is associated with longer life. The results show that receiving requests to connect as friends online is associated with reduced mortality but initiating friendships is not. Additionally, online behaviors that indicate face-to-face social activity (like posting photos) are associated with reduced mortality, but online-only behaviors (like sending messages) have a nonlinear relationship, where moderate use is associated with the lowest mortality. These results suggest that online social integration is linked to lower risk for a wide variety of critical health problems. Although this is an associational study, it may be an important step in understanding how, on a global scale, online social networks might be adapted to improve modern populations' social and physical health.
Volunteering has been advocated by the United Nations, and American and European governments as a way to engage people in their local communities and improve social capital, with the potential for public health benefits such as improving wellbeing and decreasing health inequalities. Furthermore, the US Corporation for National and Community Service Strategic Plan for 2011–2015 focused on increasing the impact of national service on community needs, supporting volunteers' wellbeing, and prioritising recruitment and engagement of underrepresented populations. The aims of this review were to examine the effect of formal volunteering on volunteers' physical and mental health and survival, and to explore the influence of volunteering type and intensity on health outcomes.
Several studies in the new field of cognitive epidemiology have shown that higher intelligence predicts longer lifespan. This positive correlation might arise from socioeconomic status influencing both intelligence and health; intelligence leading to better health behaviours; and/or some shared genetic factors influencing both intelligence and health. Distinguishing among these hypotheses is crucial for medicine and public health, but can only be accomplished by studying a genetically informative sample.
Confronting the Social Determinants of Health After failed intervention efforts, a physician files a Child Protective Services report alleging the medical neglect of two girls with morbid obesity, serious coexisting conditions, and medical nonadherence. But CPS agencies can do little to alter the milieu shaping behavior.
Objectives. We investigated health disparities among lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) adults aged 50 years and older. Methods. We analyzed data from the 2003-2010 Washington State Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (n = 96 992) on health outcomes, chronic conditions, access to care, behaviors, and screening by gender and sexual orientation with adjusted logistic regressions. Results. LGB older adults had higher risk of disability, poor mental health, smoking, and excessive drinking than did heterosexuals. Lesbians and bisexual women had higher risk of cardiovascular disease and obesity, and gay and bisexual men had higher risk of poor physical health and living alone than did heterosexuals. Lesbians reported a higher rate of excessive drinking than did bisexual women; bisexual men reported a higher rate of diabetes and a lower rate of being tested for HIV than did gay men. Conclusions. Tailored interventions are needed to address the health disparities and unique health needs of LGB older adults. Research across the life course is needed to better understand health disparities by sexual orientation and age, and to assess subgroup differences within these communities. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print June 13, 2013: e1-e8. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2012.301110).
Though there has sometimes been distrust between the health care and public health fields, they are inevitably and increasingly interdependent. And improvements in some types of public health interventions can increase the impact of clinical care on population health.
European adolescents and students tend to have low levels of physical activity and eat unhealthy foods, and the prevalence of overweight and obesity has increased, which poses a public health challenge. Mobile apps play an important role in their daily lives, suggesting their potential to be used in health-promoting strategies.
An increasing number of countries are implementing taxes on unhealthy foods and drinks to address the growing burden of dietary-related disease, but the cost-effectiveness of combining taxes on unhealthy foods and subsidies on healthy foods is not well understood.
The United States provides an example of a country with (a) legal tobacco/nicotine products (e.g., snus, other smokeless tobacco, cigarettes) differing greatly in risks to health and (b) respected health information websites that continue to omit or provide incorrect differential risk information. Concern for the principles of individual rights, health literacy, and personal autonomy (making decisions for oneself), which are key principles of public health ethics, has been countered by utilitarian arguments for the use of misleading or limited information to protect public health overall. We argue that omitting key health relevant information for current or prospective consumers represents a kind of quarantine of health-relevant information. As with disease quarantines, the coercive effects of quarantining information on differential risks need to be justified, not merely by fears of net negative public health effects, but by convincing evidence that such measures are actually warranted, that public health overall is in imminent danger and that the danger is sufficient to override principles of individual autonomy. Omitting such health-relevant information for consumers of such products effectively blindfolds them and impairs their making informed personal choices. Moral psychological issues that treat all tobacco/nicotine products similarly may also be influencing the reluctance to inform on differential risks. In countries where tobacco/nicotine products are legally sold and also differ greatly in disease risks compared to cigarettes (e.g., smokeless tobacco and vape), science-based, comprehensible, and actionable health information (consistent with health literacy principles) on differential risks should be available and only reconsidered if it is established that this information is causing losses to population health overall.
U.S. medical students have staged “white coat die-ins” in support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, but should the medical community do more? Should health professionals be accountable for fighting the racism that contributes to poor health in the first place?