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1.  Individual Joblessness, Contextual Unemployment, and Mortality Risk 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2014;180(3):280-287.
Longitudinal studies at the level of individuals find that employees who lose their jobs are at increased risk of death. However, analyses of aggregate data find that as unemployment rates increase during recessions, population mortality actually declines. We addressed this paradox by using data from the US Department of Labor and annual survey data (1979–1997) from a nationally representative longitudinal study of individuals—the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. Using proportional hazards (Cox) regression, we analyzed how the hazard of death depended on 1) individual joblessness and 2) state unemployment rates, as indicators of contextual economic conditions. We found that 1) compared with the employed, for the unemployed the hazard of death was increased by an amount equivalent to 10 extra years of age, and 2) each percentage-point increase in the state unemployment rate reduced the mortality hazard in all individuals by an amount equivalent to a reduction of 1 year of age. Our results provide evidence that 1) joblessness strongly and significantly raises the risk of death among those suffering it, and 2) periods of higher unemployment rates, that is, recessions, are associated with a moderate but significant reduction in the risk of death among the entire population.
PMCID: PMC4108041  PMID: 24993734
business cycles; Cox model; macroeconomic conditions; mortality; proportional hazards model; recessions; unemployment
2.  Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Hypertension Prevalence: Reconsidering the Role of Chronic Stress 
American journal of public health  2013;104(1):117-123.
We investigated the association between anticipatory stress, also known as racism-related vigilance, and hypertension prevalence in Black, Hispanic, and White adults.
We used data from the Chicago Community Adult Health Study, a population-representative sample of adults (n=3105) surveyed in 2001 to 2003, to regress hypertension prevalence on the interaction between race/ethnicity and vigilance in logit models.
Blacks reported the highest vigilance levels. For Blacks, each unit increase in vigilance (range=0–12) was associated with a 4% increase in the odds of hypertension (odds ratio [OR]=1.04; 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.00, 1.09). Hispanics showed a similar but nonsignificant association (OR=1.05; 95% CI=0.99, 1.12), and Whites showed no association (OR=0.95; 95% CI=0.87, 1.03).
Vigilance may represent an important and unique source of chronic stress that contributes to the well-documented higher prevalence of hypertension among Blacks than Whites; it is a possible contributor to hypertension among Hispanics but not Whites.
PMCID: PMC3910029  PMID: 24228644
3.  Do Special Occasions Trigger Psychological Distress Among Older Bereaved Spouses? An Empirical Assessment of Clinical Wisdom 
Mental health professionals have suggested that widowed persons experience heightened psychological distress on dates that had special meaning for them and their late spouse, such as a wedding anniversary or the late spouse’s birthday. This study examined the effects of such occasions on grief, anxiety, and depressive symptoms in a community sample of older widowed persons.
OLS regression models were estimated using data from the Changing Lives of Older Couples (CLOC) study, a large prospective probability study of late-life widowhood. Participants were interviewed prior to and both 6 and 18 months after spousal loss; married matched controls were interviewed at comparable times.
Widowed persons reported heightened psychological distress when interviewed during the month of their late spouse’s birthday, a post-holiday period (January), and in June, a month associated with wedding anniversaries and graduations in the United States. The distressing effects of special occasions on psychological symptoms were evidenced only within the first 6 months postloss, and were not apparent at the 18-month follow-up.
Our results support the clinical observation that persons in the early stages of spousal bereavement are at increased risk of psychological distress at times with special significance to the couple. We highlight methodological and clinical implications.
PMCID: PMC3894124  PMID: 23811691
Bereavement; Birthdays; Depressive symptoms; Grief; Holidays; Widowhood.
4.  Contextualizing nativity status, social ties, and ethnic enclaves: Implications for understanding immigrant and Latino health paradoxes 
Ethnicity & health  2013;18(6):586-609.
Researchers have posited that one potential explanation for the better-than-expected health outcomes observed among some Latino immigrants, vis-à-vis their U.S.-born counterparts, may be the strength of their social ties and social support among immigrants.
We examined the association between nativity status and social ties using data from the Chicago Community Adult Health Study’s Latino subsample, which includes Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and other Latinos. First, we used Ordinary Least Squares [OLS] regression methods to model the effect of nativity status on five outcomes: informal social integration; social network diversity; network size; instrumental support; and informational support. Using multilevel mixed effects regression models, we estimated the association between Latino/immigrant neighborhood composition on our outcomes, and whether these relationships varied by nativity status. Lastly, we examined the relationship between social ties and immigrants’ length of time in the United States.
After controlling for individual-level characteristics, immigrant Latinos had significantly lower levels of social ties than their U.S.-born counterparts for all our outcomes, except for informational support. Latino/immigrant neighborhood composition was positively associated with being socially integrated and having larger and more diverse social networks. The associations between two of our outcomes (informal social integration and network size) and living in a neighborhood with greater concentrations of Latinos and immigrants were stronger for U.S.-born Latinos than for immigrant Latinos. U.S.-born Latinos maintained a significant socialties advantage compared to immigrants—regardless of length of time in the United States—for informal social integration, network diversity, and network size.
At the individual level, our findings challenge the assumption that Latino immigrants would have larger networks and/or higher levels of support and social integration than their U.S.-born counterparts. Our study underscores the importance of understanding the contexts that promote the development of social ties. We discuss the implications of these findings for understanding Latino and immigrant social ties and health outcomes.
PMCID: PMC4176765  PMID: 23947776
Social support; Social networks; Latinos; Immigrants; Nativity; Immigrant Status; Length of Time in the United States; Ethnic Enclaves; Neighborhood Context; USA
5.  Working conditions and depressive symptoms: A prospective study of U.S. Adults 
Prior longitudinal studies of negative working conditions and depression generally have used a single exposure indicator, such as job strain, and have required consistent availability of the measure across waves and selection of only those working at all measurement points.
Up to four waves of the American’s Changing Lives study (1986-2001/2) and item response theory (IRT) models were used to generate wave-specific measures of negative working conditions. Random-intercept linear mixed models assessed the association between the score and depressive symptoms.
Adjusting for covariates, negative working conditions were associated with significantly greater depressive symptoms.
A summary score of negative working conditions allowed use of all available working conditions measures and predicted depressive symptoms in a nationally-representative sample of U.S. workers followed for up to 15 years. Linear mixed models also allowed retention of intermittent workers.
PMCID: PMC3951142  PMID: 24013657
6.  Development of a regional-scale pollen emission and transport modeling framework for investigating the impact of climate change on allergic airway disease 
Biogeosciences (Online)  2013;10(3):3977-4023.
Exposure to bioaerosol allergens such as pollen can cause exacerbations of allergenic airway disease (AAD) in sensitive populations, and thus cause serious public health problems. Assessing these health impacts by linking the airborne pollen levels, concentrations of respirable allergenic material, and human allergenic response under current and future climate conditions is a key step toward developing preventive and adaptive actions. To that end, a regional-scale pollen emission and transport modeling framework was developed that treats allergenic pollens as non-reactive tracers within the WRF/CMAQ air-quality modeling system. The Simulator of the Timing and Magnitude of Pollen Season (STaMPS) model was used to generate a daily pollen pool that can then be emitted into the atmosphere by wind. The STaMPS is driven by species-specific meteorological (temperature and/or precipitation) threshold conditions and is designed to be flexible with respect to its representation of vegetation species and plant functional types (PFTs). The hourly pollen emission flux was parameterized by considering the pollen pool, friction velocity, and wind threshold values. The dry deposition velocity of each species of pollen was estimated based on pollen grain size and density. An evaluation of the pollen modeling framework was conducted for southern California for the period from March to June 2010. This period coincided with observations by the University of Southern California's Children's Health Study (CHS), which included O3, PM2.5, and pollen count, as well as measurements of exhaled nitric oxide in study participants. Two nesting domains with horizontal resolutions of 12 km and 4 km were constructed, and six representative allergenic pollen genera were included: birch tree, walnut tree, mulberry tree, olive tree, oak tree, and brome grasses. Under the current parameterization scheme, the modeling framework tends to underestimate walnut and peak oak pollen concentrations, and tends to overestimate grass pollen concentrations. The model shows reasonable agreement with observed birch, olive, and mulberry tree pollen concentrations. Sensitivity studies suggest that the estimation of the pollen pool is a major source of uncertainty for simulated pollen concentrations. Achieving agreement between emission modeling and observed pattern of pollen releases is the key for successful pollen concentration simulations.
PMCID: PMC4021721  PMID: 24839448
7.  Cognitive Function in the Community Setting: The Neighborhood as a Source of “Cognitive Reserve”? 
Existing research has found a positive association between cognitive function and residence in a socioeconomically advantaged neighborhood. Yet, the mechanisms underlying this relationship have not been empirically investigated. This study tests the hypothesis that neighborhood socioeconomic structure is related to cognitive function partly through the availability of neighborhood physical and social resources (e.g. recreational facilities, community centers and libraries), which promote cognitively beneficial activities such as exercise and social integration.
Using data from a representative survey of community-dwelling adults in the City of Chicago (N = 949 adults age 50 and over) we assessed cognitive function with a modified version of the Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status (TICS) instrument. Neighborhood socioeconomic structure was derived from US Census indicators. Systematic Social Observation was used to directly document the presence of neighborhood resources on the blocks surrounding each respondent’s residence.
Using multilevel linear regression, residence in an affluent neighborhood had a net positive effect on cognitive function after adjusting for individual risk factors. For white respondents, the effects of neighborhood affluence operated in part through a greater density of institutional resources (e.g. community centers) that promote cognitively beneficial activities such as physical activity. Stable residence in an elderly neighborhood was associated with higher cognitive function (potentially due to greater opportunities for social interaction with peers), but long term exposure to such neighborhoods was negatively related to cognition.
Neighborhood resources have the potential to promote “cognitive reserve” for adults who are aging in place in an urban setting.
PMCID: PMC3387518  PMID: 21515547
cognitive function; neighborhood; urban health; elderly
8.  Social connectedness can inhibit disease transmission: Social organization, cohesion, village context and infection risk in rural Ecuador 
American journal of public health  2012;102(12):2233-2239.
Social network analysis has become central to understanding the spread of infectious diseases and behavioral risks for chronic disease. Networks are typically seen as conduits for spread of disease or risk factors thereof. However, social relationships also reduce incidence of chronic disease, and potentially infectious diseases as well. Seldom are these opposing effects considered simultaneously. We show how and why diarrheal disease spreads more slowly to and within rural Ecuadorian villages that are more remote from the area’s population center. Reduced contact with outside individuals partially accounts for remote villages’ relatively lower prevalence of diarrheal disease. But equally or more important is greater density of social ties between individuals in remote communities, which facilitates spread of individual and collective practices that reduce transmission of diarrheal disease.
PMCID: PMC3519324  PMID: 23078481
Diarrheal disease; social networks; infectious diseases; social epidemiology; development and health
9.  Designer laying hen diets to improve egg fatty acid profile and maintain sensory quality 
Food Science & Nutrition  2013;1(4):324-335.
The fatty acid composition of eggs is highly reflective of the diet of the laying hen; therefore, nutritionally important fatty acids can be increased in eggs in order to benefit human health. To explore the factors affecting the hen's metabolism and deposition of fatty acids of interest, the current research was divided into two studies. In Study 1, the fatty acid profile of eggs from Bovan White hens fed either 8%, 14%, 20%, or 28% of the omega-6 fatty acid, linoleic acid (LA) (expressed as a percentage of total fatty acids), and an additional treatment of 14% LA containing double the amount of saturated fat (SFA) was determined. Omega-6 fatty acids and docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) in the yolk were significantly (P < 0.05) increased, and oleic acid (OA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) were significantly decreased with an increasing dietary LA content. In Study 2, the fatty acid and sensory profiles were determined in eggs from Shaver White hens fed either (1) 15% or 30% of the omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) (of total fatty acids), and (2) low (0.5), medium (1), or high (2) ratios of SFA: LA+OA. Increasing this ratio resulted in marked increases in lauric acid, ALA, EPA, DPA, and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), with decreases in LA and arachidonic acid. Increasing the dietary ALA content from 15% to 30% (of total fatty acids) did not overcome the DHA plateau observed in the yolk. No significant differences (P ≥ 0.05) in aroma or flavor between cooked eggs from the different dietary treatments were observed among trained panelists (n = 8). The results showed that increasing the ratio of SFA: LA+OA in layer diets has a more favorable effect on the yolk fatty acid profile compared to altering the LA content at the expense of OA, all while maintaining sensory quality.
PMCID: PMC3951599  PMID: 24804037
Descriptive analysis; docosahexaenoic acid; eggs; laying hens; omega-3; saturated fat; sensory
10.  Variations in Hypertension-Related Outcomes Among Blacks, Whites and Hispanics in Two Large Urban Areas and in the United States 
Ethnicity & disease  2012;22(4):391-397.
This study compared the hypertension prevalence, awareness, treatment and control in Chicago, Illinois and Detroit, Michigan to that of the general United States population (aged ≥ 25 years) for the period 2001–2003. We examined whether and how much 1) urban populations have less favorable hypertension-related outcomes and 2) the rates of racial/ethnic minorities lag behind those of Whites in order to determine if the national data understate the magnitude of hypertension-related outcomes and racial/ethnic disparities in two large cities in the Midwestern region of the United States and perhaps others.
Unstandardized and standardized hypertension-related outcome rates were estimated.
The hypertension-related outcomes among Chicago and Detroit residents lag behind the United States by 8%–14% and 10%–18% points, respectively. Additionally, this study highlights the complexity of the racial/ethnic differences in hypertension-related outcomes, where within each population, Blacks were more likely to have hypertension and to be aware of their hypertension status than Whites, and no less likely to be treated. Conversely, Hispanics were less likely to have hypertension and also less likely to be aware of their status when they do have hypertension when compared to Whites.
At a time when efficacious treatment for hypertension has been available for more than 50 years, continued racial/ethnic differences in the prevalence, awareness, treatment and control of hypertension is among public health’s greatest challenges. To achieve the proposed national hypertension-related goals, future policies must consider the social context of hypertension within central cities of urban areas. (Ethn Dis. 2012;22[4]:391–397)
PMCID: PMC3579519  PMID: 23140067
Hypertension; Minority Health; Population; Urban Health
11.  The Unequal Burden of Weight Gain: An Intersectional Approach to Understanding Social Disparities in BMI Trajectories from 1986 to 2001/2002 
The implications of recent weight gain trends for widening social disparities in body weight in the United States are unclear. Using an intersectional approach to studying inequality, and the longitudinal and nationally representative American’s Changing Lives study (19862001/2002), we examine social disparities in body mass index trajectories during a time of rapid weight gain in the United States. Results reveal complex interactive effects of gender, race, socioeconomic position and age, and provide evidence for increasing social disparities, particularly among younger adults. Most notably, among individuals who aged from 25–39 to 45–54 during the study interval, low-educated and low-income black women experienced the greatest increase in BMI, while high-educated and high-income white men experienced the least BMI growth. These new findings highlight the importance of investigating changing disparities in weight intersectionally, using multiple dimensions of inequality as well as age, and also presage increasing BMI disparities in the U.S. adult population.
PMCID: PMC3570259  PMID: 23413316
12.  Language of Interview, Self-Rated Health, and the Other Latino Health Puzzle 
American journal of public health  2010;101(7):1306-1313.
Despite lower rates of mortality and some forms of morbidity, Latinos report worse self-rated health (SRH) than Whites. These inconsistencies have raised questions about the validity of SRH for cross-ethnic comparisons and its use as a measure of health disparities. We examine whether the translation of this measure into Spanish helps explain these patterns.
We analyzed levels of SRH under different language conditions using cross-sectional data from the 2002 Chicago Community Adult Health Study and the 2003 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.
Being interviewed in Spanish was associated with significantly higher odds of rating one’s health as fair/poor in both data sets, and adjusting for language of interview substantially reduced the SRH gap between whites and Latinos. Spanish-language interviewees were also more likely to rate their health as “fair” (“regular” in Spanish) than any other response category, after adjusting for age, sex, socioeconomic position, health conditions, and other factors. The association between being interviewed in Spanish and reporting “fair”/“regular” health was strongest when contrasted against response categories representing better health (good, very good, and excellent).
The findings support the hypothesis that the translation of the English word “fair” to “regular” induces Spanish-speaking respondents to report worse levels of health than they otherwise would in English. We recommend caution in interpreting this widely used instrument—especially when making racial/ethnic comparisons—and propose experimental research using different translations of this measure to arrive at one that better equates its meaning in Spanish and English.
PMCID: PMC3110226  PMID: 21164101
13.  Education and levels of salivary cortisol over the day in U.S. adults 
Dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is hypothesized to be an important pathway linking socioeconomic position and chronic disease.
This paper tests the association between education and the diurnal rhythm of salivary cortisol.
Up to 8 measures of cortisol (mean of 5.38 per respondent) over two days were obtained from 311 respondents, aged 18–70, drawn from the 2001–2002 Chicago Community Adult Health Study. Multi-level models with linear splines were used to estimate waking level, rates of cortisol decline, and area-under-the-curve over the day, by categories of education.
Lower education (0–11 years) was associated with lower waking levels of cortisol, but not the rate of decline of cortisol, resulting in a higher area-under-the-curve for more educated respondents throughout the day.
This study found evidence of lower cortisol exposure among individuals with less education and thus does not support the hypothesis that less education is associated with chronic over-exposure to cortisol.
PMCID: PMC3486742  PMID: 20812036
14.  Neighborhood Context and Social Disparities in Cumulative Biological Risk Factors 
Psychosomatic medicine  2011;73(7):572-579.
This study examines the role of neighborhood context in the accumulation of biological risk factors and racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities.
Data come from face-to-face interviews and blood collection on a probability sample of adults (n=549) in the 2002 Chicago Community Adult Health Study. Following the approach of prior studies, we constructed an index of cumulative biological risk (CBR) by counting how many of eight biomarkers exceeded clinically defined criteria for “high risk”: systolic and diastolic blood pressure, resting heart rate, hemoglobin A1c, C-reactive protein, waist size, and total and HDL cholesterol. Data are presented as incidence rate ratios (IRR) based on generalized linear models with a Poisson link function and population-average estimates with robust standard errors.
Non-Hispanic blacks (n=200), Hispanics (n=149), and people with low (n=134) and moderate (n=275) education had significantly higher numbers of biological risks than their respective reference groups (IRR=1.48, 1.59, 1.62, and 1.48, respectively, with p-values <0.01). Black-white (p<0.001) and Hispanic-white (p<0.003) disparities in CBR remained significant after adjusting for individual-level socioeconomic position and behavioral factors, while individual-level controls substantially diminished the low/high (p<0.069) and moderate/high (p<0.042) educational differences. Estimating “within-neighborhood” disparities to adjust for neighborhood context fully explained the black-white gap in CBR (p<0.542) and reduced the Hispanic-white gap to borderline significance (p<0.053). Neighborhood affluence predicted lower levels of CBR (IRR=0.82, p<0.027), but neighborhood disadvantage was not significantly associated with CBR (IRR=1.00, p<0.948).
Neighborhood environments appear to play a pivotal role in the accumulation of biological risk and disparities therein.
PMCID: PMC3216672  PMID: 21862824
social environment; health disparities; cumulative biological risk; allostatic load; risk factor
15.  The Social Structuring of Mental Health over the Adult Life Course: Advancing Theory in the Sociology of Aging 
The sociology of aging draws on a broad array of theoretical perspectives from several disciplines, but rarely has it developed its own. We build on past work to advance and empirically test a model of mental health framed in terms of structural theorizing and situated within the life course perspective. Whereas most prior research has been based on cross-sectional data, we utilize four waves of data from a nationally representative sample of American adults (Americans' Changing Lives Study) collected prospectively over a 15-year period and find that education, employment and marital status, as well as their consequences for income and health, effectively explain the increase in depressive symptoms after age 65. We also found significant cohort differences in age trajectories of mental health that were partly explained by historical increases in education. We demonstrate that a purely structural theory can take us far in explaining later life mental health.
PMCID: PMC3210581  PMID: 22081728
16.  Socioeconomic and Behavioral Risk Factors for Mortality in a National 19-Year Prospective Study of U.S. Adults 
Social science & medicine (1982)  2010;70(10):1558-1566.
Many demographic, socioeconomic, and behavioral risk factors predict mortality in the United States. However, very few population-based longitudinal studies are able to investigate simultaneously the impact of a variety of social factors on mortality. We investigated the degree to which demographic characteristics, socioeconomic variables and major health risk factors were associated with mortality in a nationally-representative sample of 3,617 U.S. adults from 1986-2005, using data from the 4 waves of the Americans’ Changing Lives study. Cox proportional hazard models with time-varying covariates were employed to predict all-cause mortality verified through the National Death Index and death certificate review. The results revealed that low educational attainment was not associated with mortality when income and health risk behaviors were included in the model. The association of low-income with mortality remained after controlling for major behavioral risks. Compared to those in the “normal” weight category, neither overweight nor obesity was significantly associated with the risk of mortality. Among adults age 55 and older at baseline, the risk of mortality was actually reduced for those were overweight (hazard rate ratio=0.83, 95% C.I. = 0.71 – 0.98) and those who were obese (hazard rate ratio=0.68, 95% C.I. = 0.55 – 0.84), controlling for other health risk behaviors and health status. Having a low level of physical activity was a significant risk factor for mortality (hazard rate ratio=1.58, 95% C.I. = 1.20 – 2.07). The results from this national longitudinal study underscore the need for health policies and clinical interventions focusing on the social and behavioral determinants of health, with a particular focus on income security, smoking prevention/cessation, and physical activity.
PMCID: PMC3337768  PMID: 20226579
Mortality; socioeconomic factors; health behavior; Unites States; obesity
17.  Hopelessness, Depression, and Early Markers of Endothelial Dysfunction in U.S. adults 
Psychosomatic medicine  2010;72(7):613-619.
This study examines whether the psychological traits of hopelessness and depressive symptoms are related to endothelial dysfunction.
Data come from a subsample of 434 respondents in the 2001–2003 Chicago Community Adult Health Study (CCAHS), a population-based survey designed to study the impact of psychological attributes, neighborhood environment, and socio-economic circumstances on adults age 18 and over. Circulating biomarkers of endothelial dysfunction including e-selectin, p-selectin and s-ICAM1 were obtained from serum samples. Hopelessness was measured by responses to two questions and depressive symptoms were measured by an 11-item version of the CES-D. Multivariate regression models tested whether continuous levels of the biomarkers (natural log transformed) were associated with levels of hopelessness and depressive symptoms separately and concurrently.
In age- and sex-adjusted models, hopelessness showed significant positive linear associations with s-ICAM1. In contrast, there was no significant linear association between hopelessness and e-selectin and p-selectin. Adjustment for clinical risk factors including systolic pressure, chronic health conditions, smoking, and body mass index did not substantively alter these associations. Results from similar models for depressive symptoms did not reveal any association with the three biomarkers of endothelial dysfunction. The associations between hopelessness and e-selectin and s-ICAM1 were robust to the inclusion of adjustments for depressive symptoms.
Negative psychosocial traits may influence cardiovascular outcomes partially through their impact on the early stages of atherosclerosis, and specific psychosocial traits such as hopelessness may play a more direct role in this process than overall depressive symptoms.
PMCID: PMC3190596  PMID: 20498292
18.  Social security and mortality: The role of income support policies and population health in the United States 
Journal of public health policy  2011;32(2):234-250.
Social Security is the most important and effective income support program ever introduced in the United States, alleviating the burden of poverty for millions of elderly Americans. We explored the possible role of Social Security in reducing mortality among the elderly. In support of this hypothesis, we found that declines in mortality among the elderly exceeded those among younger age groups following the initial implementation of Social Security in 1940, and also in the periods following marked improvements in Social Security benefits via legislation and indexing of benefits that occurred between the mid-1960s and the early 1970s. A better understanding of the link between Social Security and health status among the elderly would add a significant and missing dimension to the public discourse over the future of Social Security, and the potential role of income support programs in reducing health-related socioeconomic disparities and improving population health.
PMCID: PMC3148579  PMID: 21326333
Social Security; income support; social epidemiology; health policy
19.  Measurement of the Local Food Environment: A Comparison of Existing Data Sources 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2010;171(5):609-617.
Studying the relation between the residential environment and health requires valid, reliable, and cost-effective methods to collect data on residential environments. This 2002 study compared the level of agreement between measures of the presence of neighborhood businesses drawn from 2 common sources of data used for research on the built environment and health: listings of businesses from commercial databases and direct observations of city blocks by raters. Kappa statistics were calculated for 6 types of businesses—drugstores, liquor stores, bars, convenience stores, restaurants, and grocers—located on 1,663 city blocks in Chicago, Illinois. Logistic regressions estimated whether disagreement between measurement methods was systematically correlated with the socioeconomic and demographic characteristics of neighborhoods. Levels of agreement between the 2 sources were relatively high, with significant (P < 0.001) kappa statistics for each business type ranging from 0.32 to 0.70. Most business types were more likely to be reported by direct observations than in the commercial database listings. Disagreement between the 2 sources was not significantly correlated with the socioeconomic and demographic characteristics of neighborhoods. Results suggest that researchers should have reasonable confidence using whichever method (or combination of methods) is most cost-effective and theoretically appropriate for their research design.
PMCID: PMC2842213  PMID: 20123688
Chicago; geographic information systems; reproducibility of results; residence characteristics; social environment
20.  Racial and Socioeconomic Disparities in Residential Proximity to Polluting Industrial Facilities: Evidence From the Americans’ Changing Lives Study 
American journal of public health  2009;99(Suppl 3):S649.
We sought to demonstrate the advantages of using individual-level survey data in quantitative environmental justice analyses and to provide new evidence regarding racial and socioeconomic disparities in the distribution of polluting industrial facilities.
Addresses of respondents in the baseline sample of the Americans’ Changing Lives Study and polluting industrial facilities in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxic Release Inventory were geocoded, allowing assessments of distances between respondents’ homes and polluting facilities. The associations between race and other sociodemographic characteristics and living within 1 mile (1.6 km) of a polluting facility were estimated via logistic regression.
Blacks and respondents at lower educational levels and, to a lesser degree, lower income levels were significantly more likely to live within a mile of a polluting facility. Racial disparities were especially pronounced in metropolitan areas of the Midwest and West and in suburban areas of the South.
Our results add to the historical record demonstrating significant disparities in exposures to environmental hazards in the US population and provide a paradigm for studying changes over time in links to health.
PMCID: PMC2774179  PMID: 19890171
21.  Perceived job insecurity and worker health in the United States 
Social science & medicine (1982)  2009;69(5):777-785.
Economic recessions, the industrial shift from manufacturing toward service industries, and rising global competition have contributed to uncertainty about job security, with potential consequences for workers’ health. To address limitations of prior research on the health consequences of perceived job insecurity, we use longitudinal data from two nationally-representative samples of the United States population, and examine episodic and persistent perceived job insecurity over periods of about three years to almost a decade. Results show that persistent perceived job insecurity is a significant and substantively important predictor of poorer self-rated health in the American’s Changing Lives (ACL) and Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) samples, and of depressive symptoms among ACL respondents. Job losses or unemployment episodes are associated with perceived job insecurity, but do not account for its association with health. Results are robust to controls for sociodemographic and job characteristics, negative reporting style, and earlier health and health behaviors.
PMCID: PMC2757283  PMID: 19596166
USA; perceived job insecurity; self-rated health; depressive symptoms
22.  Mobility Disability and the Urban Built Environment 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2008;168(5):506-513.
Research on the effects of the built environment in the pathway from impairment to disability has been largely absent. Using data from the Chicago Community Adult Health Study (2001–2003), the authors examined the effect of built environment characteristics on mobility disability among adults aged 45 or more years (n = 1,195) according to their level of lower extremity physical impairment. Built environment characteristics were assessed by using systematic social observation to independently rate street and sidewalk quality in the block surrounding each respondent's residence in the city of Chicago (Illinois). Using multinomial logistic regression, the authors found that street conditions had no effect on outdoor mobility among adults with only mild or no physical impairment. However, among adults with more severe impairment in neuromuscular and movement-related functions, the difference in the odd ratios for reporting severe mobility disability was over four times greater when at least one street was in fair or poor condition (characterized by cracks, potholes, or broken curbs). When all streets were in good condition, the odds of reporting mobility disability were attenuated in those with lower extremity impairment. If street quality could be improved, even somewhat, for those adults at greatest risk for disability in outdoor mobility, the disablement process could be slowed or even reversed.
PMCID: PMC2727170  PMID: 18667526
aging; lower extremity; mobility limitation; social environment; urban health
23.  Understanding Social Disparities in Hypertension Prevalence, Awareness, Treatment, and Control: The Role of Neighborhood Context 
Social science & medicine (1982)  2007;65(9):1853-1866.
The spatial segregation of the U.S. population by socioeconomic position and especially race-ethnicity suggests that the social contexts or “neighborhoods” in which people live may substantially contribute to social disparities in hypertension. The Chicago Community Adult Health Study did face-to-face interviews, including direct measurement of blood pressure, with a representative probability sample of adults in Chicago. These data were used to estimate socioeconomic and racial-ethnic disparities in the prevalence, awareness, treatment, and control of hypertension, and to analyze how these disparities are related to the areas in which people live. Hypertension was significantly negatively associated with neighborhood affluence/gentrification, and adjustments for context eliminated the highly significant disparity between blacks/African-Americans and whites, and reduced the significant educational disparity by 10–15% to borderline statistical significance. Awareness of hypertension was significantly higher in more disadvantaged neighborhoods and in places with higher concentrations of blacks (and lower concentrations of Hispanics and immigrants). Adjustment for context completely eliminated blacks’ greater awareness, but slightly accentuated the lesser awareness of Hispanics and the greater levels of awareness among the less educated. There was no consistent evidence of either social disparities in or contextual associations with treatment of hypertension, given awareness. Among those on medication, blacks were only 40–50% as likely as whites to have their hypertension controlled, but context played little or no role in either the level of or disparities in control of hypertension. In sum, residential contexts potentially play a large role in accounting for racial-ethnic, and to a lesser degree, socioeconomic disparities in hypertension prevalence and, in a different way, awareness, but not in treatment or control of diagnosed hypertension.
PMCID: PMC2705439  PMID: 17640788
Neighborhoods; social disparities; multi-level modeling; health inequalities; hypertension; blood pressure
24.  Social and Physical Environments and Disparities in Risk for Cardiovascular Disease: The Healthy Environments Partnership Conceptual Model 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2005;113(12):1817-1825.
The Healthy Environments Partnership (HEP) is a community-based participatory research effort investigating variations in cardiovascular disease risk, and the contributions of social and physical environments to those variations, among non-Hispanic black, non-Hispanic white, and Hispanic residents in three areas of Detroit, Michigan. Initiated in October 2000 as a part of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences’ Health Disparities Initiative, HEP is affiliated with the Detroit Community–Academic Urban Research Center. The study is guided by a conceptual model that considers race-based residential segregation and associated concentrations of poverty and wealth to be fundamental factors influencing multiple, more proximate predictors of cardiovascular risk. Within this model, physical and social environments are identified as intermediate factors that mediate relationships between fundamental factors and more proximate factors such as physical activity and dietary practices that ultimately influence anthropomorphic and physiologic indicators of cardiovascular risk. The study design and data collection methods were jointly developed and implemented by a research team based in community-based organizations, health service organizations, and academic institutions. These efforts include collecting and analyzing airborne particulate matter over a 3-year period; census and administrative data; neighborhood observation checklist data to assess aspects of the physical and social environment; household survey data including information on perceived stressors, access to social support, and health-related behaviors; and anthropometric, biomarker, and self-report data as indicators of cardiovascular health. Through these collaborative efforts, HEP seeks to contribute to an understanding of factors that contribute to racial and socioeconomic health inequities, and develop a foundation for efforts to eliminate these disparities in Detroit.
PMCID: PMC1314928  PMID: 16330371
community-based participatory research partnerships; racial segregation and cardiovascular disease; social and physical environments and cardiovascular disease

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