Friday, June 17, 2011

Number Of Deaths In The US Can Be Linked To Social Factors

Medical News Today

Published in the American Journal of Public Health, a new study calculates the number of deaths attributable to social factors in the United States, finding a broader way to conceptualize the causes of mortality.

Researchers estimated the number of deaths in the United States attributable to social factors, using a systematic review of the available literature combined with vital statistics data. They conducted a MEDLINE search for all English-language articles published between 1980 and 2007 with estimates of the relation between social factors and adult all-cause mortality. After calculating for the relative risk estimates of mortality, researchers obtained estimates for each social factor. Individual social factors included education, poverty, health insurance status, employment status and job stress, social support, racism or discrimination, housing conditions and early childhood stressors. Area-level social factors included area-level poverty, income inequality, deteriorating built environment, racial segregation, crime and violence, social capital and availability of open or green spaces.

They found that approximately 245,000 deaths in the United States in 2000 were attributable to low education, 176,000 to racial segregation, 162,000 to low social support, 133,000 to individual-level poverty, 119,000 to income inequality and 39,000 to area-level poverty.

The study's researchers suggest, "Social causes can be linked to death as readily as can pathophysiological and behavioral causes. All of these factors contribute substantially to the burden of disease in the United States, and all need focused research efforts and public health efforts to mitigate their consequences."

American Journal of Public Health  

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