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.
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 said—which means that prevention and treatment of the associated adverse health effects is all the more important.
Harvard Pop Center Director Lisa Berkman has recently been appointed president of The Association of Population Centers (APC). The organization, an independent group of universities and research groups whose mission is to foster collaborative demographic research and data sharing, translate basic population research for public policy decision-makers, and provide educational and training opportunities in population studies, was founded in 1991, and is open to any organization with a primary interest in population research and training.
J.M. Ian Salas, PhD, one of our current Bell Fellows, was recently presented with the prestigious Dorothy S. Thomas Award by the Population Association of America (PAA) at their annual meeting in Boston. This award, which recognizes research focused on the interrelationships among social, economic and demographic variables, was given to Salas for a paper that was published while he was a doctoral student at the University of California Irvine on the consequences of funding disruptions on family planning programs in the Philippines. Currently, at the Harvard Pop Center, his research continues as he investigates the behavioral mechanisms behind the persistence of fertility differentials by socioeconomic status, and the effects of recurring natural disasters on fertility and health at birth and early childhood, including its ramifications for later life outcomes.
Harvard Pop Center affiliated faculty member David Cutler spoke about his book The Quality Cure: How Focusing on Health Care Quality Can Save Your Life and Lower Spending Too on healthinsurance.org’s Curbside Consult.
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.
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.
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.