American Journal of Public Health Highlights
- Racial discrimination can take long-term health toll
- Mothers with young children are especially vulnerable to poor mental health
- Drug use an increasing threat to young American Indians
- Physician distrust varies across racial groups and geographic locations
Racial discrimination can take long-term health toll
Everyday discrimination increases stress and may eventually lead to chronic illnesses among racial and ethnic minorities.
A study of 2,095 Asian and Pacific Islander Americans who were surveyed about their experiences with discrimination found that reports of everyday discrimination were associated with counts of chronic conditions, after controlling for age, gender, region, per capita income, education, employment, marital status and social desirability. Discrimination was also associated with indicators of heart disease, pain and respiratory illnesses.
“Policies designed to strengthen civil rights may not only buttress the foundations of a democratic society, but also promote health,” the study’s authors said. [From: “The Association between Self-Reported Discrimination and Health Conditions: A Nationally Representative Study of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans.” Contact: Gilbert C. Gee, PhD, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich., firstname.lastname@example.org .]
Mothers with young children are especially vulnerable to poor mental health
Mental health can take a serious blow among mothers with young children if they lack some basic daily support.
Researchers found that poor maternal mental health can result if women lack emotional or hands-on support with parenting, spend what they feel is too much time with a child or have difficulty paying for childcare. Facing one of those obstacles tripled a woman’s risk for poor mental health, while struggling with two or more such obstacles increased the risk 12-fold. The study’s authors pointed out that many families with young children have scarce resources when it comes to money, social support and health care. Their study was based on a national survey of more than 1,700 mothers.
“To address social, financial and child healthcare access related parenting stressors and
maternal mental health, changes may be required in community support systems that are well coordinated with primary care, alongside improvements in relevant social policy,” the study’s authors said. [From: “Parenting Stressors and Self-Reported Mental Health of Mothers with Young Children.” Contact: Ritesh I. Mistry, PhD, MPH, University of California Los Angeles, email@example.com.]
Drug use an increasing threat to young American Indians
Young American Indians living on reservations may be increasingly vulnerable to illicit drug use, underscoring the need for culturally specific prevention programs.
A study found that among first-time drug users on and near two different American Indian reservations, those born after 1960 had the highest risk for trying marijuana at age 16. Additionally, within the same group, the risk of drug use was higher among reservation-dwelling youth than the general population. Overall, American Indian adolescents were at higher risk for trying marijuana than their elders or their peers across the country.
Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug among adolescents and adults in the United States. Some studies have linked early marijuana use with later dependence on the drug and use of additional illicit substances. [From: “Marijuana Initiation in two American Indian Reservation Communities: Comparison to a National Sample.” Contact: Nancy Rumbaugh Whitesell, PhD, University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center, Aurora, Colo., firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Blacks and Hispanics demonstrate significantly higher levels of physician distrust than whites in the United States and racial differences vary substantially according to individual characteristics, including the city of residence and socioeconomic status.
Researchers analyzed 11,422 responses from the Community Tracking Study, a population-based survey of health and health care, and found that race/ethnicity was significantly associated with physician distrust. Mean distrust in blacks and Hispanics was 16.5 and 17.1, respectively, values that were higher than the mean level in whites, 15.2. Racial differences in distrust scores varied according to an individual’s educational attainment, insurance coverage, household income and gender. Men had consistently higher distrust scores than women, but this association was greater among blacks than among whites or Hispanics. Higher levels of educational attainment were associated with lower distrust scores among blacks and Hispanics but not among whites. After controlling for individual characteristics, scores varied significantly across U.S. cities.
“The variation suggests that the determinants of physician distrust are complex, potentially differing across racial/ethnic groups and arising from social and physical environment as well as from individual experiences,” the study’s authors said. [From: “Racial/Ethnic Differences in Physician Distrust in the United States.” Contact: Katrina Armstrong, MD, MSCE, University of Pennsylvania, email@example.com .]