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During COVID-19, health provision and information resources have been increasingly provided via digital means (e.g. websites, apps) and this will become a standard practice beyond the pandemic. People with severe mental illness face profound health inequalities (e.g. a >20-year mortality gap). Digital exclusion puts this population at risk of heightened or compounded inequalities. This has been referred to as the ‘digital divide’. For any new digital means introduced in clinical practice to augment healthcare service provision, issues of accessibility, acceptability and usability should be addressed by researchers and developers early in the design phase, and prior to full implementation, to prevent digital exclusion.
The debate about extending working lives in response to population ageing often overlooks the lack of employment opportunity for older adults with disabilities. Without work, their living standards depend heavily on government transfers. This study contributes to the literature on health inequalities by analysing the sources of income and poverty outcomes for people aged 50 to 64 in two liberal democratic countries yet with contrasting disability benefit contexts – Canada and the United Kingdom. This choice of countries offers the opportunity to assess whether the design of benefit systems has led the most disadvantaged groups to fare differently between countries. Overall, disabled older persons without work faced a markedly higher risk of poverty in Canada than in the UK. Public transfers played a much greater role in the UK, accounting for two-thirds of household income among low-educated groups, compared with one-third in Canada. The average benefit amount received was similar in both countries, but the coverage of disabled people was much lower in Canada than in the UK, leading to a high poverty risk among disabled people out of work. Our findings highlight the importance of income support systems in preventing the widening of the poverty-disability gap at older ages.
The chapter examines the main economic developments in the Israeli healthcare system and focuses on the contribution of the National Health Insurance Law (1995) to changing the configuration of incentives between the health funds and their members, between the health funds and the government, and between the health funds and the hospitals. An analysis is presented of the main trends in national health expenditure in Israel and its financing and the main reasons for its relative stability, in contrast to the upward trend that characterizes most of the OECD countries. The chapter also looks at the changes that have occurred in the private health insurance market (supplementary health insurance and commercial health insurance) and the effect of these changes on the system’s equality and efficiency. It will also discuss the trends in the main inputs into the healthcare system (manpower and hospital beds) relative to the system’s outputs (life expectancy and infant mortality).
To develop recommendations for strategies and interventions to reduce stigma and discrimination related to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), through reviewing and synthesising evidence in relation to COVID-19 and other disease outbreaks and infectious/stigmatised conditions from systematic reviews and primary studies and recommendations from additional materials.
Rapid review, drawing on the World Health Organization's (WHO) methodology for developing interim guidelines during health emergencies. PubMed/MEDLINE, PsycINFO, Cochrane Central and Campbell Collaboration searched up to mid-April 2020. Searches were supplemented by reference-searching and expert recommendations. Searches were designed to identify: (1) systematic reviews (<10 years), or (2) primary intervention studies (no date limit) reporting evidence on anti-stigma interventions (in relation to COVID-19 or other infectious/stigmatised conditions) or (3) additional relevant materials. Data were extracted on population, intervention, outcome and results. These data were compiled into evidence summary tables and narrative overviews. Recommendations on strategies for COVID-19 stigma-reduction were developed using the WHO ‘Evidence to Decision’ framework approach. The review protocol was registered with PROSPERO (registration ID: CRD42020177677).
The searches identified a total of 4150 potentially relevant records, from which 12 systematic reviews and 29 additional articles were included. Overarching considerations and specific recommendations focus on: (1) language/words used in relation to COVID-19 and affected people; (2) media/journalistic practices; (3) public health interventions; (4) targeted public health interventions for key groups and (5) involving communities and key stakeholders.
These recommendations represent the first consolidated evidence-based guidance on stigma and discrimination reduction in relation to COVID-19. Mitigating the impact of stigma is critical in reducing distress and negative experiences, and strengthening communities' resolve to work together during exceptional circumstances. Ultimately, reducing stigma helps addressing structural inequalities that drive marginalisation and exacerbate both health risks and the impact of stigma. Administrations and decision makers are urged to consider integrating these recommendations into the ongoing COVID-19 response.
Research on sickness absence has typically focussed on single diagnoses, despite increasing recognition that long-term health conditions are highly multimorbid and clusters comprising coexisting mental and physical conditions are associated with poorer clinical and functional outcomes. The digitisation of sickness certification in the UK offers an opportunity to address sickness absence in a large primary care population.
Lambeth Datanet is a primary care database which collects individual-level data on general practitioner consultations, prescriptions, Quality and Outcomes Framework diagnostic data, sickness certification (fit note receipt) and demographic information (including age, gender, self-identified ethnicity, and truncated postcode). We analysed 326 415 people's records covering a 40-month period from January 2014 to April 2017.
We found significant variation in multimorbidity by demographic variables, most notably by self-defined ethnicity. Multimorbid health conditions were associated with increased fit note receipt. Comorbid depression had the largest impact on first fit note receipt, more than any other comorbid diagnoses. Highest rates of first fit note receipt after adjustment for demographics were for comorbid epilepsy and rheumatoid arthritis (HR 4.69; 95% CI 1.73–12.68), followed by epilepsy and depression (HR 4.19; 95% CI 3.60–4.87), chronic pain and depression (HR 4.14; 95% CI 3.69–4.65), cardiac condition and depression (HR 4.08; 95% CI 3.36–4.95).
Our results show striking variation in multimorbid conditions by gender, deprivation and ethnicity, and highlight the importance of multimorbidity, in particular comorbid depression, as a leading cause of disability among working-age adults.
Participation in many behaviors is associated with individuals’ social status and differences in access to resources, which affect their opportunities to engage in these behaviors. For example, behaviors in the health and environmental domain differ between individuals and groups of differing socioeconomic status (SES). While associations between social position and behavior are increasingly recognized and explored, relatively little is known of the mechanisms and processes by which these disparities relate to behavior change. This chapter discusses concepts of inequity relevant to behavior change, highlighting the need for consistent and meaningful operationalizations. The chapter outlines the theoretical frameworks of disparities, emphasizes the important role that multilevel perspectives of socio-structural determinants of disparities play in behavior change, and highlights how behavioral theory can help in understanding disparities in behavior change. Using health behavior examples, mechanisms underlying intervention-generated inequities are identified. If the effects of theory-based determinants on behavior differ by SES, interventions based on these determinants are likely to be differentially effective in groups differing by SES, further contributing to health disparities. Future research on behavior change should include a stronger focus on equity across domains, better document the differential effects on behavior change, and clearly specify the role of inequity in theories of behavior change.
Evidence on how gender intersects with relevant social constructs in later phases of life is scarce. This investigation examined gender inequalities in perceived health status (self-perceived general health; SPGH) by Portuguese elderly community-dwellers while considering psycho-social and socio-demographic determinants. This study used data from a representative sample of community-dwellers aged ≥65 years (N = 920), who were enrolled in the Portuguese Elderly Nutritional Status Surveillance System (PEN-3S) project. Associations between SPGH and socio-demographic and psycho-social variables, functionality and self-reported morbidity were tested; indirect effects of relevant predictors on SPGH were also tested using a bootstrap method. Gender inequalities in health were found: women significantly rated their health worse than men; overall, participants rated their health as fair. Education, functional status, depression symptoms and self-reported morbidity significantly predicted SPGH among women, whereas only the latter two were associated with SPGH among men. For both genders, depression was the strongest predictor of SPGH. Mediation analyses detected indirect effects of cognitive function and loneliness feelings on SPGH among older adults. Results herein provide insights on the predictive role of psycho-social variables on SPGH and support the need for considering the context when addressing the correlates of SPGH among Portuguese older adults. Altogether, these findings might support cost-effective interventions targeting the most vulnerable groups of the population to inequalities in health and its predictors.
To assess whether the observed prevalence of the double burden of malnutrition (DBM) would be higher than expected on the basis of chance, through analyses at national, wealth quintile and individual child levels.
We selected nationally representative surveys from low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) carried out since 2005 with anthropometric measures on children under 5 years of age. Household wealth was assessed through asset indices. The expected prevalence of DBM was estimated by multiplying the prevalence of stunting (low height/length for age) and overweight (high weight for height/length). The WHO recommended cut-offs (20% for stunting and 10% for overweight) that were used to define DBM at national level. DBM at individual level was defined as co-occurrence of stunting and overweight in the same child.
Nationally representative surveys from ninety-three LMIC.
A total of 825 633 children were studied.
DBM at national level was observed in five countries, whereas it would be expected to occur in eleven countries. Six countries did not present evidence of DBM at national level but did so in at least one wealth quintile. At individual level, thirty countries (32·3%) showed higher prevalence of DBM than would be expected, but most differences were small except for Syria, Azerbaijan, Albania and Egypt.
The observed number of countries or socio-economic subgroups within countries with the DBM using recommended thresholds was below what would be expected by chance. However, individual-level analyses showed that one-third of countries presented higher prevalence of DBM than would be expected.
What causes stark differences in living standards between subnational units? What can countries do to lessen such variations? This article argues that there is an aspect of national policy frameworks that impacts subnational provision of social services: the sensitivity of policy to the particularities of place. Place-sensitive policies make adaptations to the way social services are organized and provided across a country, so that they are better equipped to deal with the different characteristics of places and better support their well-being. When policies are place-sensitive, subnational provision is facilitated in poor, rural, and marginal locations in a country. In contrast, place-blind policies employ a one-size-fits-all approach that excludes people in vulnerable areas and aggravates inequalities in social service provision and social outcomes. By studying the Colombian case, this article demonstrates that a key placeblind feature of its healthcare model disproportionately affects small localities.
People with dementia can face barriers when trying to access care after a diagnosis, particularly in young-onset dementia (YOD). Little is known about the effects of ethnicity on the use of anti-dementia medication and variations between age groups. The aim of this study was to analyze national data on variations in the uptake of anti-dementia medication between people with YOD and late-onset dementia (LOD).
Cross-sectional longitudinal cohort study.
Data from the U.S. National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Centre were obtained from September 2005 to March 2019.
First visits of people with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) dementia, Lewy body dementia (LBD), and Parkinson’s disease dementia (PDD) were included.
Logistic regression was used to analyze the effects of education and ethnicity on use of cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine, accounting for YOD/LOD, gender, living situation, severity stage, and comorbidities.
In total, 15,742 people with AD dementia and LBD/PDD were included, with 11,019 PwD having completed a first follow-up visit. Significantly more people with YOD used memantine than those with LOD, while fewer used cholinesterase inhibitors. PwD from minority ethnic backgrounds used memantine and cholinesterase inhibitors less often than those from a White ethnic background. Logistic regression analysis showed that ethnicity was a significant determinant of both memantine and cholinesterase inhibitors usage, while education was only a significant determinant for memantine usage.
Findings highlight the impact of social factors on current usage of anti-dementia medication and the need for more resources to enable equitable use of anti-dementia medication.
Identifying the causes of psychiatric and physical symptoms in asylum seekers, refugees and other migrants and making definitive diagnoses can be challenging. Ethical and legal challenges in the UK include the likely deterrent effects of upfront charging for National Health Service (NHS) services. This paper focuses on the fictitious case of an asylum seeker presenting to a mental health service in England, highlighting some of the difficulties in assessing and treating this patient group and providing advice to clinicians on clinical and practical management. Current NHS entitlements for migrants are summarised and a list is presented in the online supplement of non-governmental organisations that can provide further support.
Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) infection can cause serious illness including haemolytic uraemic syndrome. The role of socio-economic status (SES) in differential clinical presentation and exposure to potential risk factors amongst STEC cases has not previously been reported in England. We conducted an observational study using a dataset of all STEC cases identified in England, 2010–2015. Odds ratios for clinical characteristics of cases and foodborne, waterborne and environmental risk factors were estimated using logistic regression, stratified by SES, adjusting for baseline demographic factors. Incidence was higher in the highest SES group compared to the lowest (RR 1.54, 95% CI 1.19–2.00). Odds of Accident and Emergency attendance (OR 1.35, 95% CI 1.10–1.75) and hospitalisation (OR 1.71, 95% CI 1.36–2.15) because of illness were higher in the most disadvantaged compared to the least, suggesting potential lower ascertainment of milder cases or delayed care-seeking behaviour in disadvantaged groups. Advantaged individuals were significantly more likely to report salad/fruit/vegetable/herb consumption (OR 1.59, 95% CI 1.16–2.17), non-UK or UK travel (OR 1.76, 95% CI 1.40–2.27; OR 1.85, 95% CI 1.35–2.56) and environmental exposures (walking in a paddock, OR 1.82, 95% CI 1.22–2.70; soil contact, OR 1.52, 95% CI 2.13–1.09) suggesting other unmeasured risks, such as person-to-person transmission, could be more important in the most disadvantaged group.
To examine general practitioners’ knowledge of and their role in tackling health inequalities, in relation to their professional responsibilities.
Primary care is often seen as being in the frontline of addressing health inequalities and the social determinants of health (SDH).
A qualitative study with a maximum variety sample of English General Practitioners (GPs). In-depth, semi-structured interviews were held with 13 GPs in various geographical settings; they lasted between 30 and 70 min. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed. The analysis involved a constant comparison process undertaken by both authors to reveal key themes.
GPs’ understanding of health inequalities reflected numerous perspectives on the SDH and they employ various different strategies in tackling them. This study revealed that GPs’ strategies were changing the nature of (medical) professionalism in primary care. We locate these findings in relation to Gruen’s model of professional responsibility (comprising a distinction between obligation and aspiration, and between patient advocacy, community participation and political involvement). We conclude that these GPs do not exploit the full potential of their contribution to tackling health inequalities. These findings have implication for policy and practice in other practitioners and in other health systems, as they seek to tackle health inequalities.
Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) have emerged as a major research theme. They make reference to an array of potentially harmful exposures occurring from birth to eighteen years of age and may be involved in the construction of health inequalities over the lifecourse. As with many simplified concepts, ACEs present limitations. They include diverse types of exposures, are often considered cumulatively, can be identified using prospective and retrospective approaches, and their multidimensional nature may lead to greater measurement error. From a public health perspective, ACEs are useful for describing the need to act upon complex social environments to prevent health inequalities at a population level. As the ACEs concept becomes popular in the context of policy interventions, concerns have emerged. As a probabilistic and population-level tool, it is not adapted to diagnose individual-level vulnerabilities, an approach which could ultimately exacerbate inequalities. Here, we present a critique of the ACEs framework, discussing its strengths and limits.
The current short communication aimed to provide a new conceptualisation of the policy drivers of inequities in healthy eating and to make a call to action to begin populating this framework with evidence of actions that can be taken to reduce the inequities in healthy eating.
The Healthy and Equitable Eating (HE2) Framework derives from a systems-based analytical approach involving expert workshops.
Academics, government officials and non-government organisations in Australia.
The HE2 Framework extends previous conceptualisations of policy responses to healthy eating to include the social determinants of healthy eating and its social distribution, encompassing policy areas including housing, social protection, employment, education, transport, urban planning, plus the food system and environment.
As the burden of non-communicable diseases continues to grow globally, it is important that governments, practitioners and researchers focus attention on the development and implementation of policies beyond the food system and environment that can address the social determinants of inequities in healthy eating.
Alternative food sources (AFS) such as local markets in disadvantaged areas are promising strategies for preventing chronic disease and reducing health inequalities. The present study assessed how sociodemographic characteristics, physical access and fruit and vegetable (F&V) consumption are associated with market use in a newly opened F&V market next to a subway station in a disadvantaged neighbourhood.
Two cross-sectional surveys were conducted among adults: (i) on-site, among shoppers who had just bought F&V and (ii) a telephone-based population survey among residents living within 1 km distance from the market.
One neighbourhood in Montreal (Canada) with previously limited F&V offerings.
Respectively, 218 shoppers and 335 residents completed the on-site and telephone-based population surveys.
Among shoppers, 23 % were low-income, 56 % did not consume enough F&V and 54 % did not have access to a car. Among all participants living 1 km from the market (n 472), market usage was associated (OR; 95 % CI) with adequate F&V consumption (1·86; 1·10, 3·16), living closer to the market (for distance: 0·86; 0·76, 0·97), having the market on the commute route (2·77; 1·61, 4·75) and not having access to a car (2·96; 1·67, 5·26).
When implemented in strategic locations such as transport hubs, AFS like F&V markets offer a promising strategy to improve F&V access among populations that may be constrained in their food acquisition practices, including low-income populations and those relying on public transportation.
Despite the significant health disparities experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) populations, few investigators affiliated with the National Institutes of Health-funded Clinical and Translational Science Award Programs are conducting research related to this underserved population. We provide recommendations shared during a half-day workshop aimed at increasing researcher readiness to conduct LGBT research. This workshop was presented as part of a series on conducting research with underserved populations offered by the Recruitment, Retention, and Community Engagement Program of the Center for Clinical and Translational Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Six LGBT health research experts provided focused presentations. The workshop presentations included a summary of significant health inequality issues, theoretical models relevant to research on LGBT health, best practices in measuring sexual orientation and gender identity, recommendations for recruitment and retention, a discussion of community engagement, and ethical considerations in conducting LGBT research. We provide a summary of recommendations to guide future research, training, and public policy related to LGBT health. The information can increase capacity among Clinical and Translational Science Award affiliated researchers in conducting research in this special population.
Social inequalities can only be understood through the interaction of their multiple dimensions. In this essay, we show that the economic and environmental impacts of natural resource extraction exacerbate gendered disparities through the intensification and devaluation of care work. A chikungunya epidemic in the refinery city of Esmeraldas, Ecuador, serves to highlight the embodied and structural violence of unhealthy conditions. Despite its promises of development, the extraction-based economy in Esmeraldas has not increased its vulnerable populations’ opportunities. It has, instead, deepened class and gendered hierarchies. In this context, the most severe effects of chikungunya are experienced by women, who bear the burden of social reproduction and sustaining lives under constant threat.
The present study investigates whether the reversal of the social gradient in obesity, defined as a cross-over to higher obesity prevalence among groups with lower education level, has occurred among men and women in urban and rural areas of Mexico.
Cross-sectional series of nationally representative surveys (1988, 1999, 2006, 2012 and 2016). The association between education and obesity was investigated over the period 1988–2016. Effect modification of the education–obesity association by household wealth was tested.
Women (n 54 816) and men (n 20 589) aged 20–49 years.
In both urban and rural areas, the association between education and obesity in women varied by level of household wealth in the earlier surveys (1988, 1999 and 2006; interaction P<0·001). In urban areas in 1988, one level lower education was associated (prevalence ratio; 95 % CI) with 45 % higher obesity prevalence among the richest women (1·45; 1·24, 1·69), whereas among the poorest the same education difference was protective (0·84; 0·72, 0·99). In the latest surveys (2012, 2016), higher education was protective across all wealth groups. Among men, education level was not associated with obesity in urban areas; there was a direct association in rural areas. Wealth did not modify the association between education and obesity.
The reversal of the educational gradient in obesity among women occurred once a threshold level of household wealth was reached. Among men, there was no evidence of a reversal of the gradient. Policies must not lose sight of the populations most vulnerable to the obesogenic environment.
This article adopts a realist approach to evaluate a social prescribing pilot in the areas of Hackney and City in London (United Kingdom). It unpacks the contextual factors and mechanisms that influenced the development of this pilot for the benefits of GPs, commissioners and practitioners, and reflects on the realist approach to evaluation as a tool for the evaluation of health interventions. Primary care faces considerable challenges including the increase in long-term conditions, GP consultation rates, and widening health inequalities. With its emphasis on linking primary care to non-clinical community services via a social prescribing coordinator (SPC), some models of social prescribing could contribute to reduce the burden on primary care, tackle health inequalities and encourage people to make greater use of non-clinical forms of support. This realist analysis was based on qualitative interviews with users, commissioners, a GP survey, focus groups and learning events to explore stakeholders’ experience. To enable a detailed analysis, we adapted the realist approach by subdividing the social prescribing pathway into stages, each with contextual factors, mechanisms and outcomes. SPCs were pivotal to the effective functioning of the social prescribing service and responsible for the activation and initial beneficial impact on users. Although social prescribing shows significant potential for the benefit of patients and primary care, several challenges need to be considered and overcome, including ‘buy in’ from some GPs, branding, and funding for the third sector in a context where social care cuts are severely affecting the delivery of health care. With its emphasis on context and mechanisms, the realist evaluation approach is useful in understanding how to identify and improve health interventions, and analyse in greater detail the contribution of different stakeholders. As the SPC is central to social prescribing, more needs to be done to understand their role conceptually and practically.