American Journal of Public Health Highlights:
- A substantial proportion of school districts conduct random drug tests
- Gender differences found in the effect of childhood adversity on adult mental health
- Foreign birth may protect against substance use
- Black veterans less likely to receive antiviral treatment for Hepatitis C than white veterans
A substantial proportion of school districts conduct random drug tests
Many school district testing policies may exceed Supreme Court sanctions
Using data from a nationally representative random sample of school districts with high schools, researchers estimated the national prevalence of random drug testing and looked at which populations of students are being tested. The researchers found that 14 percent of the nation’s school districts reported that at least one of their high schools conducted random drug testing in the 2004-2005 academic year. Of the districts that tested students, nearly all administered the random drug tests to their athletes, and two-thirds tested students who participated in other extracurricular activities. However, more than a quarter of the districts conducting random drug testing subjected all students to testing.
“Many of these districts may be conducting such testing beyond current Supreme Court sanctions, which limit testing to students involved in extracurricular activities,” the study’s authors said. “Thus, school districts that test all students or special populations…may be placing themselves in a legally vulnerable position.” [From: Random Drug Testing in U.S. Public School Districts. Contact: Chris Ringwalt, DrPH, Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, Chapel Hill, N.C., email@example.com]
Gender differences found in the effect of childhood adversity on adult mental health
Childhood sexual abuse is highly associated with psychiatric disorders among women, whereas childhood physical abuse is highly associated with psychiatric disorders among men
Researchers used data from the U.S. National Comorbidity Survey Replication to investigate the proportion of poor mental health outcomes that are attributable to adverse childhood experiences. They found that childhood physical abuse, childhood sexual abuse and witnessing domestic violence were associated with a substantial proportion of psychiatric disorders and suicidality in the adult population. Moreover, the pattern of findings differed among men and women, with childhood sexual abuse significantly associated with all groups of psychiatric disorders among women, whereas the same held true for childhood physical abuse in men.
“A whole population approach that successfully reduces childhood adversity may translate into an important reduction in psychiatric disorders and suicidal ideation and attempts in the population,” the study’s authors said. [From: Population Attributable Fractions of Psychiatric Disorders and Suicidal Ideation and Attempts Associated With Adverse Childhood Experiences. Contact: Tracie O. Afifi, MSc, Department of Community Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, firstname.lastname@example.org]
Foreign birth may protect against substance use
Using a nationally representative data set, researchers examined the roles of perceived health risk from substance use and immigration characteristics on lifetime substance use among immigrant and U.S.-born Latinos and non-Latino whites. Researchers found that Latino and non-Latino white immigrants had lower odds of cigarette, marijuana, cocaine and LSD use than did U.S.-born whites. Latino immigrants were also less likely than non-Latino white immigrants to use cigarettes, marijuana and LSD.
“Our findings complement results from other immigrant-focused studies in finding that foreign nativity was protective and associated with lower substance use,” the study’s authors said. “In our study, the finding persisted after [taking into account] different attitudes toward substance use.” [From: The Influence of Perceived Risk to Health and Immigration-Related Characteristics on Substance Use Among Latino and Other Immigrants. Contact: Victoria D. Ojeda, PhD, MPH, Department of Family and Preventative Medicine, School of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, email@example.com]
Black veterans less likely to receive antiviral treatment for Hepatitis C than white veterans
This retrospective cohort study used medical records from eight Veterans Affairs medical centers to examine the association between race and hepatitis C virus evaluation and treatment. The researchers found that blacks were less than half as likely as whites to receive antiviral treatment. And although both blacks and whites had similar odds of referral to a specialist and liver biopsy, blacks were significantly less likely to have complete laboratory evaluation and viral genotype testing.
“As more racial differences in health care are identified, there is a growing need to identify the cause of these differences and, if appropriate, methods to remedy them,” the study’s authors said. [From: Racial Differences in the Evaluation and Treatment of Hepatitis C Among Veterans: A Retrospective Cohort Study. Contact: Christine M. Rousseau, PhD, Northwest Health Services Research and Development Center of Excellence, Seattle, Wash., currently in the Department of Microbiology, University of Washington, Seattle, firstname.lastname@example.org]