American Journal of Public Health Highlights
- When husbands help with housework, wives are happier
- Healthy habits might stave off depression
- Older women need a little meat on their bones
- More nurses leaving poor countries to work in the United States.
- United States needs comprehensive policy on discrimination
When husbands help with housework, wives are happier
Wives whose husbands rarely help around the house are more likely to be unhappy, according to a study of 1,652 married couples living in low-income neighborhoods in Beirut, Lebanon.
The study examined the link between men’s involvement in housework and women’s self-rated mental health status, marital dissatisfaction and unhappiness. Wives whose husbands had low levels of involvement in housework were 1.62 times more likely to be distressed, 3 times more likely to be uncomfortable with their husbands and 2.68 times more likely to be unhappy when compared to those with husbands who regularly helped with household chores. In seventy percent of the couples surveyed, the wife was solely responsible for cooking, washing dishes and other household tasks.
The study’s findings were consistent with previous studies conducted in Western countries that found women’s psychological health tied to their sense of fairness when it came to the division of housework. Researchers believe this study is the first to examine the issue in the Middle East, where women have long been held to traditional roles inside the home.
[From: “Husbands’ involvement in housework and women’s psychosocial health: Findings from a population-based study in Lebanon.” Contact: Marwan Khawaja, PhD, American University of Beirut, email@example.com.]
Healthy habits might stave off depression
Maintaining healthy habits such as exercising regularly and avoiding too much alcohol not only help you look good, but such habits might also stave off depression.
A study of more than 1,100 adults found that those who reported excessive alcohol use (an average of three or more drinks daily) at the beginning of the study were more likely to suffer from depression six years later, as were those who were overweight at the beginning of the study. And those who reported exercising for more than 30 minutes daily at the beginning of the study period were less likely to be depressed six years later.
The study’s authors suggested not only that “physical exercise may be an effective element in the treatment of depression but that the maintenance of regular physical exercise over a relatively long period of time may protect against” developing depression. They suggested schools and workplaces adopt policies to make following healthy habits easier, such as offering only low-fat, high-fiber meals in cafeterias.
[From: “Associations Between Lifestyle and Depressed Mood: Longitudinal Results From the Maastricht Aging Study.” Contact: Coen H. van Gool, Department of Health Care Studies, Section of Medical Sociology, Universiteit Maastricht, firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Older women need a little meat on their bones
It’s not a license to pig out, but a recent study found that women considered overweight by some measures had lower mortality than their skinnier counterparts.
A study of more than 8,000 women ages 65 and older participating in the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures found those with body mass indexes (BMI) ranging from 24.6-29.8 kg/m2 had the lowest mortality. BMI charts typically place women with a BMI of 25-29.9 kg/m2 as overweight.
During the study’s eight-year follow-up period, 945 women died, and mortality was lowest among those in the middle of the distribution of each body size measure used.
The study’s authors pointed out that using a single set of numbers to define overweight and obesity in different age groups “may not be appropriate” because several studies have shown the increase in death risk among women as BMI increases is greater among younger women than older women. “It is not surprising that the women at lowest risk for mortality are neither the most thin nor the most obese,” the study’s authors said. What was a surprise: women with the lowest mortality rate would be classified as overweight or almost obese by traditional BMI charts. [From: “Associations between body composition, anthropometry, in mortality of women aged 65 and older.” Contact: Chantal Matkin Dolan, PhD, Stanford University, email@example.com.]
More nurses leaving poor countries to work in the United States
More foreign-trained nurses have entered the U.S. work force in recent years, often from lower-income countries with overburdened health care systems.
Using 1990 and 2000 U.S. Census data, researchers found foreign-trained nurses made up 8.8 percent of all new registered nurses in the United States in 1990 and 15.2 percent in 2000. In 2000, 21 percent of foreign-trained RNs originated from low-income countries, a doubling of the rate since 1990. In addition, the rate of foreign-trained RNs originating from Africa tripled during that time period.
“The prospect for higher wages overseas attracts talented local workers to the field of nursing, which may increase local and worldwide nursing supply,” said the study’s authors, who cautioned against prohibiting nurses from leaving their home countries to work elsewhere. “The implications of policy changes should be carefully considered to avoid unintended consequences.” [From: “Foreign-Trained Nurses: 10-Year Trends in Skills and Country of Origin.” Contact: Daniel Polsky, PhD, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, firstname.lastname@example.org.]
United States needs comprehensive policy on discrimination
Discrimination against a racial or ethnic group can have dire consequences for some individuals.
Based on data from 2,217 Filipino Americans interviewed in 1998-1999, researchers found those who reported unfair treatment were more likely to use prescription and illicit drugs, and to be alcohol dependent after control for age, gender, location of residence, employment status, educational level, ethnic identity level, nativity, language spoken, marital status and several health conditions. In the study, unfair treatment refers to discriminatory actions by institutions and individuals against groups with less power in society.
Prior studies by other researchers have linked such discrimination with illnesses and stressors that can lead to use medications, illicit drugs, and alcohol. The study's authors said their findings “suggest that we need an aggressive and comprehensive policy that reduces racial and other types of discrimination in order to promote health and well being.”
[From: "Relationships Between Self-Reported Unfair Treatment and Prescription Medication Use, Illicit Drug Use, and Alcohol Dependence Among Filipino Americans." Contact: Gilbert C. Gee, PhD, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich., email@example.com.]