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1.  Effects of socioeconomic position and clinical risk factors on spontaneous and iatrogenic preterm birth 
The literature shows a variable and inconsistent relationship between socioeconomic position and preterm birth. We examined risk factors for spontaneous and iatrogenic preterm birth, with a focus on socioeconomic position and clinical risk factors, in order to explain the observed inconsistency.
We carried out a retrospective population-based cohort study of all singleton deliveries in Nova Scotia from 1988 to 2003. Data were obtained from the Nova Scotia Atlee Perinatal Database and the federal income tax T1 Family Files. Separate logistic models were used to quantify the association between socioeconomic position, clinical risk factors and spontaneous preterm birth and iatrogenic preterm birth.
The study population included 132,714 singleton deliveries and the rate of preterm birth was 5.5%. Preterm birth rates were significantly higher among the women in the lowest (versus the highest) family income group for spontaneous (rate ratio 1.14, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.03, 1.25) but not iatrogenic preterm birth (rate ratio 0.95, 95% CI 0.75, 1.19). Adjustment for maternal characteristics attenuated the family income-spontaneous preterm birth relationship but strengthened the relationship with iatrogenic preterm birth. Clinical risk factors such as hypertension were differentially associated with spontaneous (rate ratio 3.92, 95% CI 3.47, 4.44) and iatrogenic preterm (rate ratio 14.1, 95% CI 11.4, 17.4) but factors such as diabetes mellitus were not (rate ratio 4.38, 95% CI 3.21, 5.99 for spontaneous and 4.02, 95% CI 2.07, 7.80 for iatrogenic preterm birth).
Socioeconomic position and clinical risk factors have different effects on spontaneous and iatrogenic preterm. Recent temporal increases in iatrogenic preterm birth appear to be responsible for the inconsistent relationship between socioeconomic position and preterm birth.
PMCID: PMC3987165  PMID: 24670050
Spontaneous preterm birth; Iatrogenic preterm birth; Risk factors; Pregnancy complications; Socioeconomic status
2.  Magnitude of income-related disparities in adverse perinatal outcomes 
To assess and compare multiple measurements of socioeconomic position (SEP) in order to determine the relationship with adverse perinatal outcomes across various contexts.
A birth registry, the Nova Scotia Atlee Perinatal Database, was confidentially linked to income tax and related information for the year in which delivery occurred. Multiple logistic regression was used to examine odds ratios between multiple indicators of SEP and multiple adverse perinatal outcomes in 117734 singleton births between 1988 and 2003. Models for after tax family income were also adjusted for neighborhood deprivation to gauge the relative magnitude of effects related to SEP at both levels. Effects of SEP were stratified by single- versus multiple-parent family composition, and by urban versus rural location of residence.
The risk of small for gestational age and spontaneous preterm birth was higher across all the indicators of lower SEP, while risk for large for gestational age was lower across indicators of lower SEP. Higher risk of postneonatal death was demonstrated for several measures of lower SEP. Higher material deprivation in the neighborhood of residence was associated with increased risk for perinatal death, small for gestational age birth, and iatrogenic and spontaneous preterm birth. Family composition and urbanicity were shown to modify the association between income and some perinatal outcomes.
This study highlights the importance of understanding the definitions of SEP and the mechanisms that lead to the association between income and poor perinatal outcomes, and broadening the types of SEP measures used in some cases.
PMCID: PMC3984719  PMID: 24589212
Perinatal; Socioeconomic position; Health inequalities; Neighborhood; Income
3.  How Do People Attribute Income-Related Inequalities in Health? A Cross-Sectional Study in Ontario, Canada 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e85286.
Substantive equity-focused policy changes in Ontario, Canada have yet to be realized and may be limited by a lack of widespread public support. An understanding of how the public attributes inequalities can be informative for developing widespread support. Therefore, the objectives of this study were to examine how Ontarians attribute income-related health inequalities.
We conducted a telephone survey of 2,006 Ontarians using random digit dialing. The survey included thirteen questions relevant to the theme of attributions of income-related health inequalities, with each statement linked to a known social determinant of health. The statements were further categorized depending on whether the statement was framed around blaming the poor for health inequalities, the plight of the poor as a cause of health inequalities, or the privilege of the rich as a cause of health inequalities.
There was high agreement for statements that attributed inequalities to differences between the rich and the poor in terms of employment, social status, income and food security, and conversely, the least agreement for statements that attributed inequalities to differences in terms of early childhood development, social exclusion, the social gradient and personal health practices and coping skills. Mean agreement was lower for the two statements that suggested blame for income-related health inequalities lies with the poor (43.1%) than for the three statements that attributed inequalities to the plight of the poor (58.3%) or the eight statements that attributed inequalities to the privilege of the rich (58.7%).
A majority of this sample of Ontarians were willing to attribute inequalities to the social determinants of health, and were willing to accept messages that framed inequalities around the privilege of the rich or the plight of the poor. These findings will inform education campaigns, campaigns aimed at increasing public support for equity-focused public policy, and knowledge translation strategies.
PMCID: PMC3890307  PMID: 24454835
4.  Sociodemographic data collection for health equity measurement: a mixed methods study examining public opinions 
Monitoring inequalities in healthcare is increasingly being recognized as a key first step in providing equitable access to quality care. However, the detailed sociodemographic data that are necessary for monitoring are currently not routinely collected from patients in many jurisdictions. We undertook a mixed methods study to generate a more in-depth understanding of public opinion on the collection of patient sociodemographic information in healthcare settings for equity monitoring purposes in Ontario, Canada. The study included a provincial survey of 1,306 Ontarians, and in-depth interviews with a sample of 34 individuals. Forty percent of survey participants disagreed that it was important for information to be collected in healthcare settings for equity monitoring. While there was a high level of support for the collection of language, a relatively large proportion of survey participants felt uncomfortable disclosing household income (67%), sexual orientation (40%) and educational background (38%). Variation in perceived importance and comfort with the collection of various types of information was observed among different survey participant subgroups. Many in-depth interview participants were also unsure of the importance of the collection of sociodemographic information in healthcare settings and expressed concerns related to potential discrimination and misuse of this information. Study findings highlight that there is considerable concern regarding disclosure of such information in healthcare settings among Ontarians and a lack of awareness of its purpose that may impede future collection of such information. These issues point to the need for increased education for the public on the purpose of sociodemographic data collection as a strategy to address this problem, and the use of data collection strategies that reduce discomfort with disclosure in healthcare settings.
PMCID: PMC3766029  PMID: 24119260
Health inequalities; Data collection; Public opinion
5.  Parental Stress Increases the Detrimental Effect of Traffic Exposure on Children's Lung Function 
Rationale: Emerging evidence indicates that psychosocial stress enhances the effect of traffic exposure on the development of asthma.
Objectives: We hypothesized that psychosocial stress would also modify the effect of traffic exposure on lung function deficits.
Methods: We studied 1,399 participants in the Southern California Children's Health Study undergoing lung function testing (mean age, 11.2 yr). We used hierarchical mixed models to assess the joint effect of traffic-related air pollution and stress on lung function.
Measurements and Main Results: Psychosocial stress in each child's household was assessed based on parental response to the perceived stress scale (range, 0–16) at study entry. Exposures to nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide, and total oxides of nitrogen (NOx), surrogates of the traffic-related pollution mixture, were estimated at schools and residences based on a land-use regression model. Among children from high-stress households (parental perceived stress scale >4) deficits in FEV1 of 4.5 (95% confidence interval, −6.5 to −2.4) and of 2.8% (−5.7 to 0.3) were associated with each 21.8 ppb increase in NOx at homes and schools, respectively. These pollutant effects were significantly larger in the high-stress compared with lower-stress households (interaction P value 0.007 and 0.05 for residential and school NOx, respectively). No significant NOx effects were observed in children from low-stress households. A similar pattern of association was observed for FVC. The observed associations for FEV1 and FVC remained after adjusting for sociodemographic factors and after restricting the analysis to children who do not have asthma.
Conclusions: A high-stress home environment is associated with increased susceptibility to lung function effects of air pollution both at home and at school.
PMCID: PMC3208647  PMID: 21700914
parental stress; traffic exposure; lung function; children
6.  Public awareness of income-related health inequalities in Ontario, Canada 
Continued action is needed to tackle health inequalities in Canada, as those of lower income continue to be at higher risk for a range of negative health outcomes. There is arguably a lack of political will to implement policy change in this respect. As a result, we investigated public awareness of income-related health inequalities in a generally representative sample of Ontarians in late 2010.
Data were collected from 2,006 Ontario adults using a telephone survey. The survey asked participants to agree or disagree with various statements asserting that there are or are not health inequalities in general and by income in Ontario, including questions pertaining to nine specific conditions for which inequalities have been described in Ontario. A multi-stage process using binary logistic regression determined whether awareness of health inequalities differed between participant subgroups.
Almost 73% of this sample of Ontarians agreed with the general premise that not all people are equally healthy in Ontario, but fewer participants were aware of health inequalities between the rich and the poor (53%–64%, depending on the framing of the question). Awareness of income-related inequalities in specific outcomes was considerably lower, ranging from 18% for accidents to 35% for obesity.
This is the first province-wide study in Canada, and the first in Ontario, to explore public awareness on health inequalities. Given that political will is shaped by public awareness and opinion, these results suggest that greater awareness may be required to move the health equity agenda forward in Ontario. There is a need for health equity advocates, physicians and researchers to increase the effectiveness of knowledge translation activities for studies that identify and explore health inequalities.
PMCID: PMC3423032  PMID: 22613058
Health equity; Health inequalities; Public opinion; Public awareness; Media; Political will
7.  Childhood Incident Asthma and Traffic-Related Air Pollution at Home and School 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2010;118(7):1021-1026.
Traffic-related air pollution has been associated with adverse cardiorespiratory effects, including increased asthma prevalence. However, there has been little study of effects of traffic exposure at school on new-onset asthma.
We evaluated the relationship of new-onset asthma with traffic-related pollution near homes and schools.
Parent-reported physician diagnosis of new-onset asthma (n = 120) was identified during 3 years of follow-up of a cohort of 2,497 kindergarten and first-grade children who were asthma- and wheezing-free at study entry into the Southern California Children’s Health Study. We assessed traffic-related pollution exposure based on a line source dispersion model of traffic volume, distance from home and school, and local meteorology. Regional ambient ozone, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and particulate matter were measured continuously at one central site monitor in each of 13 study communities. Hazard ratios (HRs) for new-onset asthma were scaled to the range of ambient central site pollutants and to the residential interquartile range for each traffic exposure metric.
Asthma risk increased with modeled traffic-related pollution exposure from roadways near homes [HR 1.51; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.25–1.82] and near schools (HR 1.45; 95% CI, 1.06–1.98). Ambient NO2 measured at a central site in each community was also associated with increased risk (HR 2.18; 95% CI, 1.18–4.01). In models with both NO2 and modeled traffic exposures, there were independent associations of asthma with traffic-related pollution at school and home, whereas the estimate for NO2 was attenuated (HR 1.37; 95% CI, 0.69–2.71).
Traffic-related pollution exposure at school and homes may both contribute to the development of asthma.
PMCID: PMC2920902  PMID: 20371422
air pollution; asthma; child; epidemiology; vehicular traffic
8.  Traffic-Related Air Pollution and Asthma Onset in Children: A Prospective Cohort Study with Individual Exposure Measurement 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2008;116(10):1433-1438.
The question of whether air pollution contributes to asthma onset remains unresolved.
In this study, we assessed the association between asthma onset in children and traffic-related air pollution.
We selected a sample of 217 children from participants in the Southern California Children’s Health Study, a prospective cohort designed to investigate associations between air pollution and respiratory health in children 10–18 years of age. Individual covariates and new asthma incidence (30 cases) were reported annually through questionnaires during 8 years of follow-up. Children had nitrogen dioxide monitors placed outside their home for 2 weeks in the summer and 2 weeks in the fall–winter season as a marker of traffic-related air pollution. We used multilevel Cox models to test the associations between asthma and air pollution.
In models controlling for confounders, incident asthma was positively associated with traffic pollution, with a hazard ratio (HR) of 1.29 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.07–1.56] across the average within-community interquartile range of 6.2 ppb in annual residential NO2. Using the total interquartile range for all measurements of 28.9 ppb increased the HR to 3.25 (95% CI, 1.35–7.85).
In this cohort, markers of traffic-related air pollution were associated with the onset of asthma. The risks observed suggest that air pollution exposure contributes to new-onset asthma.
PMCID: PMC2569108  PMID: 18941591
air pollution; asthma onset; children; nitrogen dioxide
9.  Glossary for the implementation of Health in All Policies (HiAP) 
Health in All Policies (HiAP) is becoming increasingly popular as a governmental strategy to improve population health by coordinating action across health and non-health sectors. A variety of intersectoral initiatives may be used in HiAP that frame health determinants as the bridge between policies and health outcomes. The purpose of this glossary is to present concepts and terms useful in understanding the implementation of HiAP as a cross-sectoral policy. The concepts presented here were applied and elaborated over the course of case studies of HiAP in multiple jurisdictions, which used key informant interviews and the systematic review of literature to study the implementation of specific HiAP initiatives.
PMCID: PMC3841750  PMID: 23986493

Results 1-9 (9)