Highlights from the American Journal of Public Health: June 2013 issue

FOR EMBARGOED RELEASE

Highlights from the American Journal of Public Health: June 2013 issue

In this month’s release, find new embargoed research about the effectiveness of certain alcohol laws; Chicago gunshot wounds and likelihood of mortality; and ways to improve school-based weight control policies.

AJPH News Release
EMBARGOED UNTIL April 18, 2013, 4 p.m. (EDT)

CONTACT: For copies of articles or full table of contents of issue, call Kim Short, 202-777-2511, or email Kimberly.Short@apha.org.
The articles below will be published online April 18, 2013, at 4 p.m. (EDT) by the American Journal of Public Health ® under “First Look” at http://www.ajph.org/first_look.shmtl, and they are currently scheduled to appear in the June 2013 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, www.apha.org, and is available at www.ajph.org.
American Journal of Public Health highlights:

1) Internal possession laws curb underage drinking, especially for younger teens, males

2) Longer pre-hospital transport may lead to greater likelihood of mortality from gunshot wounds

3) More attention toward community engagement and gender differences may improve school based weight control policies

1) Internal possession laws curb underage drinking, especially for younger teens, males
Internal possession laws – or laws that prohibit minors from possessing any alcohol in their body – are associated with lower odds of underage drinking, according to new research from the American Journal of Public Health. The association is most prevalent among teens age 15 and younger, and for binge drinking among young males.

Researchers used data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, a national survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that captures health risk behaviors of U.S. high school students. Data was analyzed from 12 states with varying underage alcohol laws, including internal possession laws. Two questions from the student self-administered surveys guided the analysis: one focused on how many days in the past month a student had consumed alcohol; and the other focused on how many days in the past month one had participated in binge drinking.

Results indicated that enacted internal possession laws were related to a 10 percent reduction in the odds of past month drinking. An even larger reduction, 15 percent, was found for those under the age of 15. In addition, the laws were associated with a 24 percent reduction in the odds of binge drinking among males.

“This finding suggests that internal possession laws have the intended effect on reducing underage drinking, particularly among younger students. This is especially important to note because by reducing drinking at younger ages, internal possession laws may help delay the onset of drinking during the developmental stage of adolescence,” the authors explain.

[“The Effect of Internal Possession Laws on Underage Drinking Among High School Students: A 12 State Analysis.” Contact: Robin A. LaVallee, MPP, 2107 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 1000, Arlington, Va. 22201, rlavallee@csrincorporated.com].

2) Longer pre-hospital transport may lead to greater likelihood of mortality from gunshot wounds
New research from the American Journal of Public Health showing an association in Chicago between being shot more than five miles from a trauma center, longer pre-hospital transport times and mortality has implications for providing regional trauma care, especially for underserved parts of a community.

The study utilized data from the Illinois State Trauma Registry to map eleven years of gunshot wound incidents and distance from a trauma center. Results showed significantly higher transport times for those five miles away or more from the trauma center. Individuals shot more than five miles away were largely black, more likely to include uninsured individuals, and were more likely to be the victim of an assault. Further, being shot more than five miles away was associated with higher mortality in a risk-adjusted analysis.

The study points out a prevalence of gun violence in the south and west sides of the city in which the Southeast Side could be more at risk with fewer trauma centers. The study estimates an excess of 6.3 deaths per year for this community as related to the lengthier pre-hospital transport times.

“Gun violence remains endemic to Chicago, and gunshot wounds account for the overwhelming majority of homicides within the city. We have demonstrated that incident proximity to a trauma center has a positive effect on survival outcomes for gunshot wound victims,” the researchers assert.

“We hope that the data presented will inform discussions aimed at optimizing regional trauma care in Chicago and will also aid in planning regional trauma systems in other urban settings,” they conclude.

[Trauma Deserts: Distance From a Trauma Center, Transport Times, and Mortality From Gunshot Wounds in Chicago.” Contact: Marie Crandall, MD, MPH, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, mcrandall@northwestern.edu].

3) More attention toward community engagement and gender differences may improve school-based weight control policies
Social capital — or the civic engagement, trust and social networks in a community — is an important factor in determining the success of weight control policies among youth, according to new research in the American Journal of Public Health. The effect of obesity policies in active communities, however, impacts the effectiveness of school-based weight control policies among girls and boys differently.

Researchers analyzed the interactions of social capital, childhood obesity policies and youth weight control behaviors using data from 43 states between 1991 and 2009. Survey data assessed eating and exercising behaviors among the students. School-based policies included state government policies that mandated school districts to implement goals that addressed childhood obesity. Social capital evaluation included participation in public activities, community organizations, volunteering and various other means of community engagement.

Results indicated that school-based obesity policies in active communities can assist in increasing exercise and reducing food intake among boys. This effectiveness increases as social capital increases. However, increased weight control behaviors were not seen among girls.

“The mixed policy outcomes suggest that the lack of social capital that supports school-based policies may impede effective policy interventions, highlighting the importance of building environments compatible with specific school-based policies,” the authors suggest.

“Policies that do not differentiate between girls’ and boys’ risk perceptions and behavioral patterns could incorporate inaccurate intervention goals, thus producing mixed results,” they conclude.

[“School-Based Obesity Policy, Social Capital, and Gender Differences in Weight Control Behaviors.” Contact: Ling Zhu, University of Houston, Houston, Texas, lzhu4@central.uh.edu].

The American Journal of Public Health ® is the monthly journal of the American Public Health Association, the oldest and most diverse organization of public health professionals in the world. APHA is a leading publisher of books and periodicals promoting sound scientific standards, action programs and public policy to enhance health. More information is available at www.apha.org.
Complimentary online access to the Journal is available to credentialed members of the media. Address inquiries to Kimberly Short at APHA, 202-777-2511, or via email, Kimberly.Short@apha.org. A single print issue of the Journal is available for $35 from the Journal’s Subscriptions department at www.ajph.org/subscriptions. If you are not a member of the press, a member of APHA or a subscriber, online single issue access is $30 and online single article access is $22 at www.ajph.org or for direct customer service, call 202-777-2516, or email ajph.subsriptions@apha.org.
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