The articles highlighted below appear in the July issue of the American Journal of Public Health, the Journal of the American Public Health Association.Welfare reform has undermined women’s health
Welfare reform seems to have a profoundly negative impact on women’s health.
Researchers compared the health of single mothers whose benefits and work responsibilities were affected by welfare reform with a nationally representative sample of women. Their findings: those low-income women affected by welfare reform were in much poorer health than the average American woman. They had higher rates of hypertension, elevated glycosolated hemoglobin, higher body mass indexes and cholesterol. Women affected by welfare reform also had higher smoking rates and lower smoking cessation rates than the national average.
“Current and former welfare recipients bear a substantial burden of illness,” the study’s authors wrote. They urged for more research into the ways welfare reform has left worsened female health in its wake.
[From: “ The Health of Poor Women Under Welfare Reform.” Contact: George A. Kaplan, PhD, Center for Social Epidemiology and Population Health, Ann Arbor, Mich., email@example.com.] Workplace injuries a huge part of the national injury burden
Injuries at work account for nearly half of all injuries for U.S. men age 55-64 and are a significant problem for every age group.
Researchers used the 1997-1999 National Health Interview Survey to estimate injury rates and proportions of work-related vs. non-work-related injuries. They estimated 19.4 million medically treated injuries occurred each year to working-age adults, and 5.5 million, or 29 percent, of those injuries happened on the job. While the percentage of workplace injuries varied according to gender, age and race/ethnicity, the study’s findings point to a need to examine workplace safety practices in order to reduce the total injury burden, according to the study’s authors. [From: “ Injuries at Work in the US Adult Population: Contributions to the Total Injury Burden .” Contact: Gordon H. Smith, MB, ChB, MPH, Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, Hopkinton, Mass., firstname.lastname@example.org. ]
Offering housing to homeless substance abusers key to successful treatment
Homeless people who enroll in drug treatment programs typically aren’t offered housing as part of their treatment, yet doing so could dramatically improve success rates.
That was the finding of a study of 196 cocaine-dependent homeless people who either received day treatment with no housing, housing contingent on drug abstinence or housing that was not contingent on abstinence. While all three treatment groups showed significant improvements in their ability to hold down a job and find a permanent place to live, those whose treatment included housing fared the best. The highest prevalence of drug abstinence was recorded among those whose treatment included housing that was contingent on abstinence, with the second highest among those whose housing was not contingent on drug abstinence.
[From: “ To House or Not to House: The Effects of Providing Housing
to Homeless Substance Abusers in Treatment .” Jesse B. Milby, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, email@example.com.]
Understaffed nursing homes put workers at injury risk
A study of 445 nursing homes in three states found that staffing levels are key to reducing injury among those who work in nursing homes.
Researchers used injury reports and workers compensation data from Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland for the year 2000. They linked that information to Medicare data showing nursing home staffing levels and found total nursing hours per resident day were significantly associated with injury rates. Overworked nurses and nurses’ aides were the most likely to be injured on the job.
“By improving staffing levels in nursing homes, both workers and residents will benefit,” the study’s authors wrote. “With the impending shortage of long-term care workers, it is imperative that we promote the health of this essential group of care providers; they will be increasingly needed to care for an aging population.”
[From: “ The Association Between Staffing and Worker Injury in Nursing Homes.” Contact: Alison M. Trinkoff, ScD, University of Maryland School of Nursing, Baltimore, firstname.lastname@example.org.]Education can help protect children from later health problems
Although children from the poorest families are more likely than their middle-class and wealthy peers to smoke, binge drink and be overweight, education can help them avoid those risky behaviors that often contribute to heart disease.
According to a study of more than 7,000 people born in Aberdeen, Scotland between 1950 and 1956, the lower a child’s socioeconomic class at birth, the more likely that child was to turn to smoking and drinking and to be an overweight adult. Yet when researchers adjusted for educational attainment, the link between childhood poverty and an increased likelyhood of later risky behaviors was eliminated.
“Our findings suggest that programs aimed at improving educational attainment may be important in enhancing health behaviors and thereby reducing [cardiovascular disease] risk,” the study’s authors wrote.
[From: “ Childhood Socioeconomic Position, Educational Attainment, and Adult Cardiovascular Risk Factors: The Aberdeen Children of the 1950s Cohort Study .” Contact: Debbie A. Lawlor, Department of Social Medicine, University of Bristol, United Kingdom, email@example.com.]