Special Issue "Reducing Health Inequities: Social Epidemiology Insights for Public Health and Social Policy"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 October 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Alison K. Cohen
E-Mail Website
Chief Guest Editor
Public and Nonprofit Administration, School of Management, University of San Francisco, 2130 Fulton Street, San Francisco, CA, 94117, USA
Interests: community-based participatory research; environmental health; epidemiology; health disparities; health equity; public health; social epidemiology
Dr. Stephanie R. Carroll
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Community, Environment, & Policy, Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health; Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy; Native Nations Institute; Center for Indigenous Environmental Health Research, University of Arizona, 1295 N. Martin Avenue, PO Box 245210, Tucson, AZ 85724, USA
Interests: environmental health; Indigenous data sovereignty; Native American health; public health; social factors
Ms. Catherine dP. Duarte
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Division of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of California Berkeley2121 Berkeley Way West, Berkeley, CA, 94720, USA
Interests: epidemiology; health equity; racism; education; school discipline; criminal legal system; policy; structural factors; intersectionality

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue welcomes all papers that are studying issues of health equity using methods from social epidemiology. We expect papers to thoughtfully characterize the social factors studied and discuss the potential mechanisms by which they could affect the health outcomes measured, drawing from previous theoretical and/or empirical research. Papers must also include in the discussion section clear implications for how the research can inform public health actions and/or social policies.
This Special Issue will include both original research articles and literature reviews. Original research articles should thoroughly describe the population and measures. We encourage studies of and with populations underrepresented in the public health literature, including community-based participatory research studies. Literature reviews should be systematic literature reviews or explain why a systematic literature review was not possible. We will do a rapid editorial review of any papers that are analyzing COVID-19-related data. Papers that conduct rigorous analyses that lead to null findings are also welcome.

Dr. Alison K. Cohen
Dr. Stephanie R. Carroll
Dr. Catherine dP. Duarte
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • community-based participatory research
  • COVID-19
  • epidemiology
  • health disparities
  • health equity
  • population health
  • public health
  • public policy
  • social epidemiology
  • social factors
  • social policy

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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Article
Investigating the Feasibility of a Restaurant Delivery Service to Improve Food Security among College Students Experiencing Marginal Food Security, a Head-to-Head Trial with Grocery Store Gift Cards
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(18), 9680; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18189680 - 14 Sep 2021
Viewed by 408
Abstract
Restaurant delivery services have gained in popularity among college students; however, students participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are not allowed to redeem their benefits via restaurant delivery services. This mixed-methods head-to-head crossover trial assessed whether college students experiencing marginal food [...] Read more.
Restaurant delivery services have gained in popularity among college students; however, students participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are not allowed to redeem their benefits via restaurant delivery services. This mixed-methods head-to-head crossover trial assessed whether college students experiencing marginal food security prefer benefits via a grocery store gift card (as a proxy for traditional SNAP benefits) or via a restaurant delivery service gift card of equivalent value, and which type of benefit is more effective at improving food security status. Thirty college students experiencing marginal food security were recruited to receive $80 in cash equivalent benefits to spend over a two-month period in the form of grocery store gift cards and restaurant delivery service gift cards. Participants completed surveys and interviews to measure their food security status and share their experiences with each benefit type. After four months of benefits, 48.3% of participants improved their food security status. However, neither type of benefit was statistically better at improving food security status. Most participants preferred grocery store benefits (89.7%) over restaurant delivery service benefits (10.3%). However, more research is needed to explore whether allowing SNAP recipients to redeem their benefits with restaurant delivery services is a viable mechanism to address food challenges among college students experiencing marginal food security. Full article
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Article
Food Insecurity and Eating Pathology in Adolescents
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(17), 9155; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18179155 - 30 Aug 2021
Viewed by 554
Abstract
Adolescence is a critical period for the emergence of eating disorders, and food insecurity may be related to eating pathology and weight, as evidenced in adults. However, little is known about food insecurity and eating pathology during this developmental period, and associations between [...] Read more.
Adolescence is a critical period for the emergence of eating disorders, and food insecurity may be related to eating pathology and weight, as evidenced in adults. However, little is known about food insecurity and eating pathology during this developmental period, and associations between food insecurity and body mass index (BMI) are mixed. Therefore, we examined associations between food insecurity and BMI percentile, self-reported eating-related pathology and binge eating, and subgroup differences by race/ethnicity. In a subset, we examined the relationship between food insecurity and real-world hunger, food craving, and loss-of-control eating using ecological momentary assessment (EMA). Fifty-eight adolescents at two sites (clinical sample, n = 38, BMI percentile ≥ 70th; community sample, n = 20, all BMI strata) completed self-report questionnaires. Adolescents were 15.2 ± 2.1 years old, 62% female, 50% Black, 34.5% Hispanic, with BMI percentile = 80.5 ± 25.8 (range 4–99). In the full sample, food insecurity was associated with greater BMI (p < 0.01), higher shape/weight overvaluation (p = 0.04), and greater number of binge eating episodes among those reporting at least one binge episode (p < 0.01), with significant relationships for BMI percentile, shape/weight overvaluation, body dissatisfaction, and binge episode frequency among Hispanic adolescents only (each p < 0.01). As in adults, food insecurity may be a risk factor for eating pathology, particularly for Hispanic teens. Full article
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Article
The Influence of Sociodemographic Heterogeneity on the Perceptions of COVID-19: A Countrywide Survey Study in the USA
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(17), 8922; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18178922 - 25 Aug 2021
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Abstract
Background: Sociodemographic factors such as age, race, education, family income, and sex have been reported to influence COVID-related perceptions, reflected by knowledge, stress, and preventive behavior. We conducted a US-based survey to estimate the difference in COVID-related perceptions among diverse sociodemographic groups and [...] Read more.
Background: Sociodemographic factors such as age, race, education, family income, and sex have been reported to influence COVID-related perceptions, reflected by knowledge, stress, and preventive behavior. We conducted a US-based survey to estimate the difference in COVID-related perceptions among diverse sociodemographic groups and the influence of sociodemographic heterogeneity on COVID-related perceptions. Methods: The survey enquired about sociodemographic parameters and relevant information to measure knowledge, stress, and preventive behavior. COVID-perception scores among sociodemographic subgroups were compared with ANOVA (Bonferroni). The general linear model (GLM) was used to estimate the association among sociodemographic factors and COVID-related perceptions. Results: Females (75%) and White participants (78%) were the predominant (N = 3734). Females, White participants, wealthy, and educated participants demonstrated better knowledge, while participants of minority races, younger ages, low incomes, and females experienced high stress. Females, African-Americans, and educated participants better adopted preventive behaviors. Race, family income, and sex were the highest contributors to the predictive model. Sociodemographic determinants had statistically significant associations with knowledge (F-score = 7.72, p < 0.001; foremost predictor: race), stress (F-score = 16.46, p < 0.001; foremost predictor: income), and preventive behavior (GLM: F-score = 7.72, p < 0.001, foremost predictor: sex). Conclusion: Sociodemographic heterogeneity significantly influenced COVID-related perceptions, while race, family income, and sex were the strongest determinants of COVID-related perceptions. Full article
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Article
High School Composition and Health Outcomes in Adulthood: A Cohort Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(7), 3799; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18073799 - 06 Apr 2021
Viewed by 704
Abstract
Background: A multitude of empirical evidence documents links between education and health, but this focuses primarily on educational attainment and not on characteristics of the school setting. Little is known about the extent to which aggregate characteristics of the school setting, such as [...] Read more.
Background: A multitude of empirical evidence documents links between education and health, but this focuses primarily on educational attainment and not on characteristics of the school setting. Little is known about the extent to which aggregate characteristics of the school setting, such as student body demographics, are associated with adult health outcomes. Methods: We use the U.S. nationally representative National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 cohort to statistically assess the association between two different measures of high school student composition (socioeconomic composition, racial/ethnic composition) and two different health outcomes at age 40 (self-rated health and obesity). Results: After adjusting for confounders, high school socioeconomic composition, but not racial/ethnic composition, was weakly associated with both obesity and worse self-rated health at age 40. However, after adding adult educational attainment to the model, only the association between high school socioeconomic composition and obesity remained statistically significant. Conclusions: Future research should explore possible mechanisms and also if findings are similar across other populations and in other school contexts. These results suggest that education policies that seek to break the link between socioeconomic composition and negative outcomes remain important but may have few spillover effects onto health. Full article
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Brief Report
Inequality-Related Health and Social Factors and Their Impact on Well-Being during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Findings from a National Survey in the UK
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(3), 1014; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18031014 - 24 Jan 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1532
Abstract
Background: Lower socioeconomic groups and disadvantaged populations across the world suffer disproportionately from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. This study aimed to examine the impact of health- and social-inequality–related factors on well-being in order to further distinguish each of their effects during [...] Read more.
Background: Lower socioeconomic groups and disadvantaged populations across the world suffer disproportionately from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. This study aimed to examine the impact of health- and social-inequality–related factors on well-being in order to further distinguish each of their effects during the pandemic. Methods: A nationally-representative sample of 5077 UK respondents aged 18 years or older was recruited through an online survey panel during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their subjective well-being was measured using the 11-point Cantril Ladder of Life Scale. The impact of inequality-related health and social factors (pre-existing medical conditions, household size and occupation), as well as COVID-19–related risk factors (symptoms, confirmed infections, and social distancing behaviours) on well-being were analysed using multiple linear regression models. The associations between the COVID-19–related risk factors and well-being according to the respondents’ household size and occupation were modelled in order to test the differences by their socioeconomic profile. Results: We identified inverted V-shaped associations between household size and subjective well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic. Compared to single-person households, respondents from households of two to four persons showed better well-being (β = 0.57; CI (0.44, 0.72)), whereas living in crowded households of five persons or more was associated with decreased well-being (β = −0.48; CI (−0.71, −0.25)). Furthermore, lower-skilled occupations (elementary occupations: β = −0.31; CI (−0.58, −0.03); logistics and transport services: β = −0.37; CI (−0.74, −0.01)) and chronic medical conditions (cardiometabolic or respiratory diseases: β = −0.25; CI (−0.41, −0.1); and mental health conditions: β = −1.12; CI (−1.28, −0.96)) were factors associated with reduced well-being during the pandemic. Interactions between a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, symptoms, and crowded households were identified (β = −0.95; CI (−1.76, −0.14) and β = −4.74; CI (−9.87, −1.61), respectively). Conclusions: In a national sample, the levels of general subjective well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns were disproportionately distributed across different groups within society. Preventive policies should explicitly focus on reaching lower socioeconomic groups; more emphasis should be placed on the coordination of multisectoral support in order to tackle existing health and social inequalities. Full article
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