A historical approach to validating racism as a key determinant of health

David Williams standing next to granite wall at Harvard Chan School

The February 2022 issue of the journal Health Affairs takes a deeper look at racism and health. Harvard Pop Center faculty affiliate David Williams, along with co-author Ruth Enid Zambrana, contribute to this piece on how the past four decades of scholarship, along with some more recent insights, have helped to highlight why racism needs to be part of the “national discourse on racial inequities in health.”

Taking a closer look at the psychosocial stressors that are thought to affect health and mortality

Heavy set woman sitting on a bench

A study focused on middle-aged and older Americans by Harvard Pop Center postdoctoral fellow Justin Rodgers, faculty members David R. Williams, Ichiro Kawachi, and S V Subramanian, along with their colleague Adolfo G. Cuevas, sheds light on the eight behavioral, biological, and psychological pathways commonly thought to play a  role in the association between stress and health.

When it comes to risk factors for COVID-19 mortality, simulation study finds social determinants of health on par with diabetes

African American man sits on a bench

To compensate for there being little data available on the relationship between COVID-19 deaths and social determinants of health, Harvard Pop Center faculty members Ben Seligman and David Bloom, along with their colleague Maddalena Ferranna, have published a simulation study in PLOS Medicine that finds that individual-level social determinants of health (e.g., nonwhite race/ethnicity, income below the median income level, less than a high school education, and being a veteran) are…

Applying the lessons from the field of genetics to social determinants of health with a polysocial risk score

Ashish Jha headshot

Faculty member Ashish K. Jha, MD, and colleagues suggest in this JAMA Viewpoint that given the complexity of trying to parse the impact of social factors on health, perhaps developing and deploying a risk score model similar to the polygenic model could advance the field of social determinants of health.

Study of Hurricane Katrina survivors offers unique insights into impact of neighborhood gentrification on health

Urban housing in a neighborhood that has been gentrified

Researchers affiliated with the Resilience in Survivors of Hurricane Katrina (RISK) project have published a paper that takes a look at the health impacts of being displaced into a gentrified neighborhood. The researchers did not find evidence of significant effects on BMI, self-rated health, or psychological distress. Photo: Ted Eytan on Flickr

Using a machine learning approach to shed light on relationship between SES and women’s height

Photos of Adel Daoud, Rockli Kim and S V Subramanian

Even though height is commonly correlated with socioeconomic status (SES), SES is not known as a reliable predictor of height. In this study, Harvard Pop Center Bell Fellow Adel Daoud, Research Associate Rockli Kim, and faculty member S (Subu) V Subramanian utilized machine learning algorithms to assess whether there were non-linear patterns in the data that might shed more light on the relationship between height and socio-economic status.

Study links exposure to parental warmth during childhood with increased levels of well-being in adulthood

Harvard Pop Center faculty member Laura Kubzansky, PhD, and colleagues are authors of a longitudinal study in Social Science & Medicine that has found that those who recalled receiving parental warmth during childhood were more likely to also self report higher levels of well-being—including emotional, psychological and social—as adults. They were also less likely to engage in behaviors such as drug use and smoking. The findings point to the potential…

Study finds health problems persist for women who experienced workplace sexual harassment, assault

Rebecca C. Thurston, PhD, a former Harvard RWJF Health & Society Scholar, is lead author on a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine that has published these timely findings receiving coverage in The Washington Post, the Huffington Post and the New York Post.

A comprehensive road map for tackling risky and costly diet-related disease in the U.S.

Sara Bleich, PhD, professor of public health policy at the Harvard Chan School, has penned an op-ed in The New England Journal of Medicine that makes a strong case for an approach that is multi-prong, spanning health systems, population, individual, local, national, and private sector levels.