Objectives. We analyzed differences in pediatric elevated blood lead level incidence before and after Flint, Michigan, introduced a more corrosive water source into an aging water system without adequate corrosion control. Methods. We reviewed blood lead levels for children younger than 5 years before (2013) and after (2015) water source change in Greater Flint, Michigan. We assessed the percentage of elevated blood lead levels in both time periods, and identified geographical locations through spatial analysis. Results. Incidence of elevated blood lead levels increased from 2.4% to 4.9% (P < .05) after water source change, and neighborhoods with the highest water lead levels experienced a 6.6% increase. No significant change was seen outside the city. Geospatial analysis identified disadvantaged neighborhoods as having the greatest elevated blood lead level increases and informed response prioritization during the now-declared public health emergency. Conclusions. The percentage of children with elevated blood lead levels increased after water source change, particularly in socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhoods. Water is a growing source of childhood lead exposure because of aging infrastructure.
Bodies of research pertaining to specific stigmatized statuses have typically developed in separate domains and have focused on single outcomes at 1 level of analysis, thereby obscuring the full significance of stigma as a fundamental driver of population health. Here we provide illustrative evidence on the health consequences of stigma and present a conceptual framework describing the psychological and structural pathways through which stigma influences health. Because of its pervasiveness, its disruption of multiple life domains (e. g., resources, social relationships, and coping behaviors), and its corrosive impact on the health of populations, stigma should be considered alongside the other major organizing concepts for research on social determinants of population health.
Objectives. We monitored trends in pregnancy by intendedness and outcomes of unintended pregnancies nationally and for key subgroups between 2001 and 2008. Methods. Data on pregnancy intentions from the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) and a nationally representative survey of abortion patients were combined with counts of births (from the National Center for Health Statistics), counts of abortions (from a census of abortion providers), estimates of miscarriages (from the NSFG), and population denominators from the US Census Bureau to obtain pregnancy rates by intendedness. Results. In 2008, 51% of pregnancies in the United States were unintended, and the unintended pregnancy rate was 54 per 1000 women ages 15 to 44 years. Between 2001 and 2008, intended pregnancies decreased and unintended pregnancies increased, a shift previously unobserved. Large disparities in unintended pregnancy by relationship status, income, and education increased; the percentage of unintended pregnancies ending in abortion decreased; and the rate of unintended pregnancies ending in birth increased, reaching 27 per 1000 women. Conclusions. Reducing unintended pregnancy likely requires addressing fundamental socioeconomic inequities, as well as increasing contraceptive use and the uptake of highly effective methods.
Objectives. We assessed the association between minority stress, mental health, and potential ameliorating factors in a large, community-based, geographically diverse sample of the US transgender population. Methods. In 2003, we recruited through the Internet a sample of 1093 male-to-female and female-to-male transgender persons, stratified by gender. Participants completed an online survey that included standardized measures of mental health. Guided by the minority stress model, we evaluated associations between stigma and mental health and tested whether indicators of resilience (family support, peer support, identity pride) moderated these associations. Results. Respondents had a high prevalence of clinical depression (44.1%), anxiety (33.2%), and somatization (27.5%). Social stigma was positively associated with psychological distress. Peer support (from other transgender people) moderated this relationship. We found few differences by gender identity. Conclusions. Our findings support the minority stress model. Prevention needs to confront social structures, norms, and attitudes that produce minority stress for gender-variant people; enhance peer support; and improve access to mental health and social services that affirm transgender identity and promote resilience.
Background. In the United States, people of color face disparities in access to health care, the quality of care received, and health outcomes. The attitudes and behaviors of health care providers have been identified as one of many factors that contribute to health disparities. Implicit attitudes are thoughts and feelings that often exist outside of conscious awareness, and thus are difficult to consciously acknowledge and control. These attitudes are often automatically activated and can influence human behavior without conscious volition. Objectives. We investigated the extent to which implicit racial/ethnic bias exists among health care professionals and examined the relationships between health care professionals' implicit attitudes about racial/ethnic groups and health care outcomes. Search Methods. To identify relevant studies, we searched 10 computerized bibliographic databases and used a reference harvesting technique. Selection Criteria. We assessed eligibility using double independent screening based on a priori inclusion criteria. We included studies if they sampled existing health care providers or those in training to become health care providers, measured and reported results on implicit racial/ethnic bias, and were written in English. Data Collection and Analysis. We included a total of 15 studies for review and then subjected them to double independent data extraction. Information extracted included the citation, purpose of the study, use of theory, study design, study site and location, sampling strategy, response rate, sample size and characteristics, measurement of relevant variables, analyses performed, and results and findings. We summarized study design characteristics, and categorized and then synthesized substantive findings. Main Results. Almost all studies used cross-sectional designs, convenience sampling, US participants, and the Implicit Association Test to assess implicit bias. Low to moderate levels of implicit racial/ethnic bias were found among health care professionals in all but 1 study. These implicit bias scores are similar to those in the general population. Levels of implicitbias against Black, Hispanic/Latino/Latina, and dark-skinned people were relatively similar across these groups. Although some associations between implicit bias and health care outcomes were nonsignificant, results also showed that implicit bias was significantly related to patient-provider interactions, treatment decisions, treatment adherence, and patient health outcomes. Implicit attitudes were more often significantly related to patient provider interactions and health outcomes than treatment processes. Conclusions. Most health care providers appear to have implicit bias in terms of positive attitudes to ward Whites and negative attitudes toward people of color. Future studies need to employ more rigorous methods to examine the relationships between implicit bias and health care outcomes. Interventions targeting implicit attitudes among health care professionals are needed because implicitbias may contribute to health disparities for people of color.
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.
Objectives. We estimated e-cigarette (electronic nicotine delivery system) awareness, use, and harm perceptions among US adults. Methods. We drew data from 2 surveys conducted in 2010: a national online study (n = 2649) and the Legacy Longitudinal Smoker Cohort (n = 3658). We used multivariable models to examine e-cigarette awareness, use, and harm perceptions. Results. In the online survey, 40.2% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 37.3, 43.1) had heard of e-cigarettes, with awareness highest among current smokers. Utilization was higher among current smokers (11.4%; 95% Cl = 9.3, 14.0) than in the total population (3.4%; 95% CI = 2.6, 4.2), with 2.0% (95% CI = 1.0, 3.8) of former smokers and 0.8% (95% Cl = 0.35, 1.7) of never-smokers ever using e-cigarettes. In both surveys, non-Hispanic Whites, current smokers, young adults, and those with at least a high-school diploma were most likely to perceive e-cigarettes as less harmful than regular cigarettes. Conclusions. Awareness of e-cigarettes is high, and use among current and former smokers is evident. We recommend product regulation and careful surveillance to monitor public health impact and emerging utilization patterns, and to ascertain why, how, and under what conditions e-cigarettes are being used. (Am J Public Health. 2012;102:1758-1766. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2011.300526)
Intersectionality is a theoretical framework that posits that multiple social categories (e.g., race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status) intersect at the micro level of individual experience to reflect multiple interlocking systems of privilege and oppression at the macro, social-structural level (e.g., racism, sexism, heterosexism). Public health's commitment to social justice makes it a natural fit with intersectionality's focus on multiple historically oppressed populations. Yet despite a plethora of research focused on these populations, public health studies that reflect intersectionality in their theoretical frameworks, designs, analyses, or interpretations are rare. Accordingly, I describe the history and central tenets of intersectionality, address some theoretical and methodological challenges, and highlight the benefits of intersectionality for public health theory, research, and policy. (Am J Public Health. 2012;102:1267-1273. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2012.300750)
To assess the experienced or perceived barriers and facilitators to health research participation for major US racial/ethnic minority populations, we conducted a systematic review of qualitative and quantitative studies from a search on PubMed and Web of Science from January 2000 to December 2011. With 44 articles included in the review, we found distinct and shared barriers and facilitators. Despite different expressions of mistrust, all groups represented in these studies were willing to participate for altruistic reasons embedded in cultural and community priorities. Greater comparative understanding of barriers and facilitators to racial/ethnic minorities' research participation can improve population-specific recruitment and retention strategies and could better inform future large-scale prospective quantitative and in-depth ethnographic studies.
Stigma and discrimination toward obese persons are pervasive and pose numerous consequences for their psychological and physical health. Despite decades of science documenting weight stigma, its public health implications are widely ignored. Instead, obese persons are blamed for their weight, with common perceptions that weight stigmatization is justifiable and may motivate individuals to adopt healthier behaviors. We examine evidence to address these assumptions and discuss their public health implications. On the basis of current findings, we propose that weight stigma is not a beneficial public health tool for reducing obesity. Rather, stigmatization of obese individuals threatens health, generates health disparities, and interferes with effective obesity intervention efforts. These findings highlight weight stigma as both a social justice issue and a priority for public health. (Am J Public Health. 2010;100:1019-1028. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2009.159491)
Objectives. We estimated national and state trends in opioid agonist medication-assisted treatment (OA-MAT) need and capacity to identify gaps and inform policy decisions. Methods. We generated national and state rates of past-year opioid abuse or dependence, maximum potential buprenorphine treatment capacity, number of patients receiving methadone from opioid treatment programs (OTPs), and the percentage of OTPs operating at 80% capacity or more using Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration data. Results. Nationally, in 2012, the rate of opioid abuse or dependence was 891.8 per 100 000 people aged 12 years or older compared with national rates of maximum potential buprenorphine treatment capacity and patients receiving methadone in OTPs of, respectively, 420.3 and 119.9. Among states and the District of Columbia, 96% had opioid abuse or dependence rates higher than their buprenorphine treatment capacity rates; 37% had a gap of at least 5 per 1000 people. Thirty-eight states (77.6%) reported at least 75% of their OTPs were operating at 80% capacity or more. Conclusions. Significant gaps between treatment need and capacity exist at the state and national levels. Strategies to increase the number of OA-MAT providers are needed.
A 5-tier pyramid best describes the impact of different types of public health interventions and provides a framework to improve health. At the base of this pyramid, indicating interventions with the greatest potential impact, are efforts to address socioeconomic determinants of health. In ascending order are interventions that change the context to make individuals' default decisions healthy, clinical interventions that require limited contact but confer long-term protection, ongoing direct clinical care, and health education and counseling. Interventions focusing on lower levels of the pyramid tend to be more effective because they reach broader segments of society and require less individual effort. Implementing interventions at each of the levels can achieve the maximum possible sustained public health benefit. (Am J Public Health. 2010;100:590-595. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2009.185652)
Objectives. We examined relationships between social determinants of health and experiences of transgender-related discrimination reported by transgender people in Virginia. Methods. In 2005 through 2006, 387 self-identified transgender people completed a statewide health needs assessment; 350 who completed eligibility questions were included in this examination of factors associated with experiences of discrimination in health care, employment, or housing. We fit multivariate logistic regression models using generalized estimating equations to adjust for survey modality (online vs paper). Results. Of participants, 41% (n = 143) reported experiences of transgender-related discrimination. Factors associated with transgender-related discrimination were geographic context, gender (female-to male spectrum vs male-to-female spectrum), low socioeconomic status, being a racial/ethnic minority, not having health insurance, gender transition indicators (younger age at first transgender awareness), health care needed but unable to be obtained (hormone therapy and mental health services), history of violence (sexual and physical), substance use health behaviors (tobacco and alcohol), and interpersonal factors (family support and community connectedness). Conclusions. Findings suggest that transgender Virginians experience widespread discrimination in health care, employment, and housing. Multilevel interventions are needed for transgender populations, including legal protections and training for health care providers.
Community-based participatory research (CBPR) has emerged in the last decades as a transformative research paradigm that bridges the gap between science and practice through community engagement and social action to increase health equity. CBPR expands the potential for the translational sciences to develop, implement, and disseminate effective interventions across diverse communities through strategies to redress power imbalances; facilitate mutual benefit among community and academic partners; and promote reciprocal knowledge translation, incorporating community theories into the research. We identify the barriers and challenges within the intervention and implementation sciences, discuss how CBPR can address these challenges, provide an illustrative research example, and discuss next steps to advance the translational science of CBPR. (Am J Public Health. 2010;100:S40-S46. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2009.184036)
Objectives. We examined whether kindergarten teachers' ratings of children's prosocial skills, an indicator of noncognitive ability at school entry, predict key adolescent and adult outcomes. Our goal was to determine unique associations over and above other important child, family, and contextual characteristics. Methods. Data came from the Fast Track study of low-socioeconomic status neighborhoods in 3 cities and 1 rural setting. We assessed associations between measured outcomes in kindergarten and outcomes 13 to 19 years later (1991-2000). Models included numerous control variables representing characteristics of the child, family, and context, enabling us to explore the unique contributions among predictors. Results. We found statistically significant associations between measured social-emotional skills in kindergarten and key young adult outcomes across multiple domains of education, employment, criminal activity, substance use, and mental health. Conclusions. A kindergarten measure of social-emotional skills may be useful for assessing whether children are at risk for deficits in noncognitive skills later in life and, thus, help identify those in need of early intervention. These results demonstrate the relevance of noncognitive skills in development for personal and public health outcomes.
Objectives. To evaluate the impact of the excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption in Berkeley, California, which became the first US jurisdiction to implement such a tax ($0.01/oz) in March 2015. Methods. We used a repeated cross-sectional design to examine changes in pre- to posttax beverage consumption in low-income neighborhoods in Berkeley versus in the comparison cities of Oakland and San Francisco, California. A beverage frequency questionnaire was interviewer administered to 990 participants before the tax and 1689 after the tax (approximately 8 months after the vote and 4 months after implementation) to examine relative changes in consumption. Results. Consumption of SSBs decreased 21% in Berkeley and increased 4% in comparison cities (P = .046). Water consumption increased more in Berkeley (+63%) than in comparison cities (+19%; P < .01). Conclusions. Berkeley's excise tax reduced SSB consumption in low-income neighborhoods. Evaluating SSB taxes in other cities will improve understanding of their public health benefit and their generalizability.
Objectives. We aimed to describe socioeconomic disparities in the United States across multiple health indicators and socioeconomic groups. Methods. Using recent national data on 5 child (infant mortality, health status, activity limitation, healthy eating, sedentary adolescents) and 6 adult (life expectancy, health status, activity limitation, heart disease, diabetes, obesity) health indicators, we examined indicator rates across multiple income or education categories, overall and within racial/ethnic groups. Results. Those with the lowest income and who were least educated were consistently least healthy, but for most indicators, even groups with intermediate income and education levels were less healthy than the wealthiest and most educated. Gradient patterns were seen often among non-Hispanic Blacks and Whites but less consistently among Hispanics. Conclusions. Health in the United States is often, though not invariably, patterned strongly along both socioeconomic and racial/ethnic lines, suggesting links between hierarchies of social advantage and health. Worse health among the most socially disadvantaged argues for policies prioritizing those groups, but pervasive gradient patterns also indicate a need to address a wider socioeconomic spectrum-which may help garner political support. Routine health reporting should examine socioeconomic and racial/ethnic disparity patterns, jointly and separately. (Am J Public Health. 2010;100:S186-S196. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2009.166082)
To address the vast gap between current knowledge and practice in the area of dissemination and implementation research, we address terminology, provide examples of successful applications of this research, discuss key sources of support, and highlight directions and opportunities for future advances. There is a need for research testing approaches to scaling up and sustaining effective interventions, and we propose that further advances in the field will be achieved by focusing dissemination and implementation research on 5 core values: rigor and relevance, efficiency, collaboration, improved capacity, and cumulative knowledge. (Am J Public Health. 2012;102:1274-1281. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2012.300755)
Objectives. Using data from a regional census of high school students, we have documented the prevalence of cyberbullying and school bullying victimization and their associations with psychological distress. Methods. In the fall of 2008, 20406 ninth- through twelfth-grade students in Metro West Massachusetts completed surveys assessing their bullying victimization and psychological distress, including depressive symptoms, self-injury, and suicidality. Results. A total of 15.8% of students reported cyberbullying and 25.9% reported school bullying in the past 12 months. A majority (59.7%) of cyberbullying victims were also school bullying victims; 36.3% of school bullying victims were also cyberbullying victims. Victimization was higher among nonheterosexually identified youths. Victims report lower school performance and school attachment. Controlled analyses indicated that distress was highest among victims of both cyberbullying and school bullying (adjusted odds ratios [AORs] were from 4.38 for depressive symptoms to 5.35 for suicide attempts requiring medical treatment). Victims of either form of bullying alone also reported elevated levels of distress. Conclusions. Our findings confirm the need for prevention efforts that address both forms of bullying and their relation to school performance and mental health. (Am J Public Health. 2012;102:171-177. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2011.300308)
Objectives. We provide estimates of several leading US adult health indicators by sexual orientation identity and gender to fill gaps in the current literature. Methods. We aggregated data from the 2001-2008 Massachusetts Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance surveys (N=67359) to examine patterns in self-reported health by sexual orientation identity and gender, using multivariable logistic regression. Results. Compared with heterosexuals, sexual minorities (i.e., gays/lesbians, 2% of sample; bisexuals, 1%) were more likely to report activity limitation, tension or worry, smoking, drug use, asthma, lifetime sexual victimization, and HIV testing, but did not differ on 3-year Papanicolaou tests, lifetime mammography, diabetes, or heart disease. Compared with heterosexuals, bisexuals reported more barriers to health care, current sadness, past-year suicidal ideation, and cardiovascular disease risk. Gay men were less likely to be overweight or obese and to obtain prostate-specific antigen tests, and lesbians were more likely to be obese and to report multiple risks for cardiovascular disease. Binge drinking and lifetime physical intimate partner victimization were more common among bisexual women. Conclusions. Sexual orientation disparities in chronic disease risk, victimization, health care access, mental health, and smoking merit increased attention. More research on heterogeneity in health and health determinants among sexual minorities is needed. (Am J Public Health. 2010;100:1953-1960. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2009.174169)