The articles below will be published online June 29 by the American Journal of Public Health under "First Look" at http://www.ajph.org/first_look.shtml, and will appear in the August 2006 print issue of the Journal. "First Look" articles have undergone peer review, copyediting and approval by authors but have not yet been printed to paper or posted online by issue. The American Journal of Public Health is published by the American Public Health Association, http://www.apha.org, and is available at http://www.ajph.org. To stay up to date on the latest in public health research, sign up for new Journal content e-mail alerts at http://www.ajph.org/subscriptions/etoc.shtml?ck=nck.
American Journal of Public Health
- "Light" cigarettes may actually hamper efforts to quit smoking
- Trauma of Hurricane Katrina evacuees underscores need for better disaster preparedness
- Job strain can lead to high blood pressure
- American Indian/Alaska Natives face formidable health and social disparities
- Tobacco and alcohol ads still prevalent during televised sports
- Homeless moms faring even worse than a decade ago
"Light" cigarettes may actually hamper efforts to quit smoking
The availability of low-tar/low-nicotine cigarettes, also known as "light cigarettes" or "lights," may actually deter smokers from kicking the habit.
A study based on responses from 12,285 people who currently smoked or had ever smoked found 37 percent had used light cigarettes in an attempt to reduce their health risk. Smokers who had ever used such light cigarettes were more than 50 percent less likely to have quit smoking than those who had never smoked light cigarettes.
"The combination of the dangerous health consequences of lights, the widespread misconception held by many smokers that lights are healthier and the evidence supporting an association between use of lights to reduce health risk and reduced smoking cessation all pose an important question: How should public and clinical health care providers address patients' use or intended use of lights?" the study's authors wrote. "Wherever possible, smokers should be provided with accurate information on the potentially detrimental effects of the use of lights to reduce health risk on subsequent smoking cessation." [From: "Cessation among smokers who used 'Lights': Results from the 2000 National Health Interview Survey." Contact: Hilary A. Tindle, MD, MPH, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Trauma of Hurricane Katrina evacuees underscores need for better disaster preparedness
Many Hurricane Katrina Evacuees suffered emotional trauma during and after the storm, underscoring the need for better public health preparedness.
In a survey of 680 evacuees living in Houston-area shelters, researchers found most were poor, black and uninsured, a population already struggling when the storm devastated their homes. To make matters worse, many suffered from chronic health problems such as diabetes and heart disease and relied on the New Orleans public hospital system for care. When Katrina destroyed that system, many evacuees had no fallback plan when it came to health care.
The survey of 680 randomly selected evacuees was conducted in mid-September 2005 and was jointly designed by the Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University School of Public Health. More than 90 percent of surveyed evacuees were black, compared to New Orleans' 67 percent black population. And 54 percent of evacuees were uninsured, compared to a 26 percent rate in Louisiana.
"The results make clear the vulnerable situation facing victims of hurricane Katrina, confirming the trends found in previous disasters," the study's authors said. "The results also shed light on critical policy choices facing public health officials and policy-makers in the Gulf Coast and across the nation." [From: "Experiences of Hurricane Katrina Evacuees in Houston Shelters: Implications for Future Planning." Contact: Mollyann Brodie, PhD, Kaiser Family Foundation, email@example.com.]
Job strain can lead to high blood pressure
Stressed-out workers with little social support on the job are at risk for high blood pressure, according to a study of more than 8,000 professionals.
The study found that job strain was more likely to raise blood pressure in men than women, but both genders faced the health risk especially if they lacked social support at work. Job strain was measured using a questionnaire that asked about factors such as the ability of workers to make decisions on the job and pressures such as deadlines. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and stroke. [From: "The Impact of Job Strain on Blood Pressure: A Prospective Study of Men and Women White-collar Workers." Contact: Jennifer Ellis, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, firstname.lastname@example.org.]
City-dwelling American Indians/Alaska Natives face formidable health and social disparities
American Indians/Alaska Natives are twice as likely as the general population to be poor, unemployed and lack a college degree, according to a study of 1990-2000 Census data.
The study focused on the health status of American Indians/Alaska Natives served by 34 federally funded Urban Indian Health Organizations. Based on 1999 income, about 25 percent of American Indians/Alaska Natives living in the urban centers studied lived in households with incomes below the federal poverty level. Almost one-third of all American Indian/Alaska Native children were living in poverty.
In addition, nearly one in four American Indians/Alaska Natives living in the areas studied were disabled, compared to one in five of the general population. Rates of premature birth, births to teenage mothers and maternal smoking were all significantly higher among American Indians/Alaska Natives when compared to the general population.
"Such disparities can be addressed through improvements in health care access, high quality data collection, and policy initiatives designed to provide sufficient resources and a more unified vision of the health of urban American Indians/Alaska Natives," the study's authors said. [From: "A Nationwide Population-Based Study Identifying Health Disparities Between American Indians/Alaska Natives and the General Populations Living in Select Urban Counties." Contact: Mei L. Castor, MD, MPH, Urban Indian Health Institute, email@example.com.]
Tobacco and alcohol ads still prevalent during televised sports
Despite efforts to curtail tobacco and alcohol advertising, alcohol and tobacco brands remain highly visible on sports programming.
A content analysis of more than 83 hours of televised sports from 2000-2002 found that rates of certain types of alcohol advertising were about equal to five years ago but markedly increased from 10 years ago. The types of alcohol advertising that remain are "strategically chosen to increase the likelihood of audience exposure," such as sponsorship of on-screen graphics that display game or sport statistics to the television audience. Additionally, ads for upcoming sporting events and products such as car batteries feature beer signs in the background. And although the Master Tobacco Settlement Agreement of 1998 required tobacco companies to reduce sports sponsorship, the study found that cigarette brand names remain prevalent on televised sports. [From: "Ten Years and One Master Settlement Agreement Later: The Nature and Frequency of Alcohol and Tobacco Promotion in Televised Sports, 2000 through 2002." Contact: Lara Zwarun, MA, PhD, University of Texas at Arlington, firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Homeless moms faring even worse than a decade ago
Homeless families are poorer, and homeless mothers report more physical health limitations, major depression and post-traumatic stress disorder now than a decade ago, according to a study comparing such families in 1993 and 2003.
The study, focusing on health status and depression among homeless mothers in Worcester, Mass., was based on interviews with 148 homeless mothers living in shelters in 2003 and interviews with 220 homeless mothers in 1993. While average total income was equivalent in each study, families in the 2003 study were poorer when accounting for the effect of inflation on spending power over the intervening decade. Overall, women in the 2003 study appeared to be suffering from more acute as well as chronic mental health problems and had depression rates four times those found in women interviewed a decade earlier.
An estimated 420,000 American families are homeless each year, putting 900,000 children at risk for developmental and behavioral problems. [From: "A Comparison of Homeless Mothers in Worcester, Massachusetts: 1993 vs. 2003." Contact: Linda F. Weinreb, MD, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Worcester, Mass., email@example.com.]