AJPH October 2015 highlights

Date: Oct 15 2015

AJPH Research: School connectedness and BMI, health benefits of green homes, HPV vaccine completion

CONTACT: For copies of articles or full table of contents of an issue, call Mandi Yohn at 202-777-2509 or email her

American Journal of Public Health highlights:

1. Greater school connectedness associated with lower student BMI
2. Green housing linked to better health
3. Gender, race, ethnicity and type of insurance can predict HPV vaccination completion

Greater school connectedness associated with lower student BMI
How connected a student feels to their school is associated with their body mass index, according to a new study in the American Journal of Public Health. The study defines school connectedness as “the sense of attachment and loyalty a student feels to their school.” 

Researchers from the Community Interventions for Health study based at Yale School of Public Health examined survey data from 800 randomly selected 5th and 6th grade students from 12 randomly selected schools in New Haven, Connecticut. The data included physical measurements and health surveys linked to school-level data from the 2009-2010 School Learning Environment survey, which collected information from students, teachers and parents about schools’ academic expectations, school communication, student engagement, safety and respect and collaboration.

Results from the study indicated that greater average connectedness felt by students to their school was significantly associated with lower BMI. Other variables, including neighborhood affluence and neighborhood disadvantage, were not associated with BMI. However, school connectedness was found to be greater among students living in more affluent neighborhoods.

“Students from more disadvantaged neighborhoods may experience stressors in their home or neighborhood environments, such as food insecurity or exposure to community violence, that make a positive school environment or school connectedness less relevant for their weight or related health behaviors. Conversely, students living in neighborhoods with more affluent neighbors, which may confer benefits of healthier social norms or improved access to healthy foods, may be better able to leverage the advantages of a positive school climate to maintain healthier behaviors,” the authors explain.

[“Associations of Neighborhood and School Socioeconomic and Social Contexts With Body Mass Index Among Urban Preadolescent Students.” Contact: Amy Carroll-Scott, PhD, MPH, Department of Community Health and Prevention, Drexel University School of Public Health, Philadelphia.]

Green housing linked to better health
Green public housing shows health benefits such as lower risk of adult sick building syndrome and childhood asthma attacks for residents, according to new research from the American Journal of Public Health

The study conducted questionnaires and visual inspections from residents and their homes in several public housing developments operated by the Boston Housing Authority. Half of the housing units included in the study had been built using green building standards and policies, while  the other half were of conventional housing stock, affording researchers the opportunity to compare health outcomes and indoor environmental conditions of the residents and their homes among both styles of housing. Collectively, researchers reviewed responses from more than 200 residents and more than 400 home visits between March 2012 and May 2013.

Results from the study showed that adults living in green housing showed fewer sick building syndrome symptoms and asthmatic children who lived in green housing had a lower risk of experiencing asthma symptoms, asthma attacks, hospital visits or asthma-related school absences. Furthermore, green homes were less likely to have inadequate ventilation, mold, secondhand smoke, pests and combustion byproducts inside. 

“Green design incorporates many aspects that could reduce environmental exposures and improve health, such as the removal of pollution sources and the addition of exhaust ventilation. Coupled with smoke-free policies and better pest control practices, these approaches are expected to improve respiratory health among public housing residents,” the researchers explain.

[“Health Benefits of Green Public Housing: Associations with Asthma Morbidity and Building-Related Symptoms,” Meryl Colton, MS, School of Public Health, Harvard University, Boston.]

Gender, race, ethnicity and type of insurance can predict HPV vaccination completion 
According to new research from the American Journal of Public Health, a number of factors, including gender, race, ethnicity and insurance type, can predict likelihood of completing the three-dose HPV vaccine within 12 months of initiation. 

Researchers used electronic health record data from 11 Planned Parenthood affiliate locations and reviewed HPV vaccinations from male and female patients ages 11 to 26 who began their vaccination series between Jan. 1, 2011, and Jan. 31, 2013. The study sought to explore demographic characteristics of those who completed the vaccine within 12 months of initiation.

Results indicated that patients who were male, non-Hispanic black or had public insurance were less likely to complete the vaccination within 12 months. Collectively, 29 percent of those who initiated the vaccine completed all three doses within 12 months.

“Providers can leverage our findings to improve HPV vaccine completion… Alerts can be embedded in [electronic health records] systems to prompt clinicians to discuss HPV vaccination with all eligible patients. In addition, providers may work with patients to identify potential barriers to completion and develop an action plan to mitigate those barriers,” the authors suggest. 

 [“Predictors of Human Papillomavirus Vaccine Completion Among Female and Male Vaccine Initiators in Family Planning Centers.” Contact: Hannah Simons, DrPH, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, New York.] 

Find a full list of research papers to be published online on October 15, 2015, at 4 p.m. EDT below:

  • Homonegative Attitudes and Risk Behaviors for HIV and Other Sexually Transmitted Infections Among Sexually Active Men in the United States 
  • Early Childhood Caries, Mouth Pain, and Nutritional Threats in Vietnam 
  • Community Health Assessment and Improved Public Health Decision-Making : A Propensity Score Matching Approach 
  • Hidden Farmworker Labor Camps in North Carolina: An Indicator of Structural Vulnerability
  • Neighborhood-based socioeconomic position and risk of oral clefts among offspring 
  • Mental Health Diagnoses Three Years after Receiving or Being Denied an Abortion in the US 
  • Generating Health Estimates by Zip Code: A Semi-parametric Small Area Estimation Approach Using the California Health Interview Survey
  • A Systematic Review of Community Engagement in US Environmental Protection Agency's Extramural Research Solicitations: Implications for Research Funders 
  • Prevalence, comorbidity, and prognosis of mental health among US Veterans
  • Sustained Benefit over Four-Year of the Michigan's Project Healthy Schools 
  • Quadrivalent human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV4) initiation in boys in Southern California before and since routine use (2009-2013) 
  • Epidemiology of sexually transmitted infections among offenders following arrest or incarceration
  • Racial/ethnic differences in the geographic distribution of HIV infection among people who inject drugs in the United States 
  • National Dissemination of StrongWomen - Healthy Hearts: A Community-Based Program to Reduce Risk of Cardiovascular Disease among Midlife and Older Women
  • Overlapping Risk Factors for HIV among Black Men Who Have Sex with Men in 6 US Cities 
  • Contribution of HIV to maternal morbidity among refugee women in Canada 
  • Dental caries: Racial and ethnic disparities among North Carolina kindergarten students 
  • What neighborhood open space attributes attract local walkers? 

The articles above will be published online October 15, 2015, at 4 p.m. EDT by the American Journal of Public Health under “First Look.” “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, and is available at www.ajph.org.

Complimentary online access to the Journal is available to credentialed members of the media. Address inquiries to Mandi Yohn at APHA, 202-777-2509, or email her. A single print issue of the Journal is available for $35 from the Journal’s Subscriptions department. 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.

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The American Journal of Public Health is the monthly journal of the American Public Health Association. APHA champions the health of all people and all communities by strengthening the profession of public health, sharing the latest research and information, promoting best practices and advocating for public health issues and policies grounded in research. More information is available at www.apha.org.