Category Archives: Recently Published

The Impact of Childhood Social Disadvantage

How does social disadvantage in childhood correlate to cardiometabolic function and chronic disease status 40 years down the line? RWJF alumna Amy Non, along with Pop Center faculty members Ichiro Kawachi, Matthew Gilman, and Laura Kubzansky, take a look at how adverse social environments in early life play out across the life course. The study has been published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Older American workers more likely to be depressed after job loss than their European counterparts

In support of a recent study on job loss and depression in the USA and Europe published in the International Journal of Epidemiology and reported by CBS News, Harvard Pop Center Director Lisa Berkman has written a commentary. The HSPH researchers and their colleagues found that older American workers (aged 50-64) are more likely to experience depression after job loss than their European counterparts. In Berkman’s commentary, The hidden and not so hidden benefits of work: identity, income and interaction, she discusses three kinds of loss that may be central to affecting health and well-being.

Can friends help friends quit smoking?

According to a new study published in  Journal of Health and Social Behavior and co-authored by RWJF alum Steven Haas, adolescents tend to be more powerful in influencing their friends to start smoking than in helping them to quit. “In order to become a smoker, kids need to know how to smoke, they need to know where to buy cigarettes and how to smoke without being caught, which are all things they can learn from their friends who smoke,” said Haas. “But, friends are unlikely to be able to provide the type resources needed to help them quit smoking.” The good news? If we can develop those kind of resources, aim them specifically at teens, and then leverage the power of peer influence, we could make great progress in helping teens quit smoking. 

Debt hurts more than just your credit rating

A recent study led by former RWJF scholar Elizabeth Sweet found that high student debt leads to a greater incidence of high blood pressure and depression in people ages 24-32. The study was featured in both Time and Forbes. With regard to cultural messages regarding an individual’s responsibility for debt, Sweet pointed out that debt, while often impossible to avoid, is stigmatized by our society. “[Debt] is going to be a way of life,” she saidwhich means that prevention and treatment of the associated adverse health effects is all the more important.

Self-confidence of Fukushima mothers lower after nuclear power plant disaster

A first look at maternal self-confidence after experiencing a nuclear power accident co-authored by former Harvard Pop Center director and current affiliated faculty member Michael R. Reich suggests that such disasters do lower maternal self-confidence, which can lead to an increase in interpersonal problems and depression.

Are older sexual partners a major risk factor for HIV for young women in sub-Saharan Africa?

Although it is commonly thought that older sexual partners are a major risk factor for HIV for young women in sub-Saharan Africa (and there have been public health campaigns launched to discourage these relationships) in a recent study co-authored by Harvard Pop Center affiliated faculty members Ichiro Kawachi, SV Subramanian, and Till Bärnighausen partner age-disparity did not predict HIV acquisition amongst young women.

Temporary migration and epidemiology trends in rural South Africa

Harvard Pop Center affiliated faculty Kathleen Kahn and Stephen Tollman have co-authored a study that finds that in the Agincourt sub-district of northeast South Africa, temporary migration (migrants relocating mainly for work purposes and remaining linked to the rural household) is more important than age and gender in explaining variations in mortality, whatever the cause. The study suggests that public health policies should account for population mobility, and that the rural health care system should be strengthened, because migrants tend to return to rural households when they need health care.

“Widowhood effect” may be in effect prior to bereavement

It is well documented that recently bereaved spouses are exposed to an increased mortality risk (known as the “widowhood effect”). Harvard Pop Center affiliated faculty members SV Subramanian (Subu), PhD, and Maria Glymour, ScD, have co-authored a study published in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry that reveals that spousal health actually starts to decline prior to the death of the loved one, suggesting that interventions designed to mitigate the “widowhood effect” should begin prior to bereavement.