Electronic Health Records Should Capture Social and Behavioral Determinants of HealthThe Institute of Medicine (IOM) just released its report on Capturing Social and Behavioral Domains and Measures in Electronic Health Records. Electronic Health Records (EHRs) are largely devoid of the documentation regarding behavioral and social determinants of health. Including a minimal number of important social and behavioral domains of health has the potential to improve clinical decision making and patient care, and provides a critical base of information for public health surveillance and the ever increasing use of EHRs for clinical research.
Making Culture Count in Health ResearchThe elimination of health disparities is a key goal of the medical research community, but one of the fundamental challenges of moving health disparities research forward is the capacity to account for culture. Differences in culture have a major influence in producing health gaps, and while most would agree that culture is pervasive, what exactly is it and how can researchers account for it when designing studies? An OBSSR panel provides answers to these questions and to offers guidelines to operationalize culture within health research.
Shortened US Longevity Linked to Smoking and ObesityIn the last 30 years, the US has lagged behind other high-income countries in increases in life expectancy. Demographer Dr. Samuel Preston explored the issue by looking at the population-wide effects of smoking and obesity and found that both independently decrease life expectancy, but unraveling the additive effects of the combination is difficult. Preston suggests the strong negative impact of smoking masks obesity, but, since rates of smoking have decreased in recent decades, he warns that obesity is poised to have a much larger impact on longevity in the US.
Compulsory schooling and health: What the evidence saysDoes compulsory schooling have an impact on health outcomes? What are the limitations of the available data and methodologies to provide more conclusive findings regarding the effects of education on health and mortality?
In the recent special issue of Social Science & Medicine entitled “Educational Attainment and Adult Health: Contextualizing Causality,” a number of articles examined the health effects of compulsory schooling, both in developed and underdeveloped nations.
Contextualizing the link between education and healthIt is well-established that a positive correlation exists between formal education level and adult health and increased longevity. In 2013, the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) partnered with the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies to examine the link between education and health. The collaboration was a multi-disciplinary effort and included researchers from diverse fields such as sociology, economics, epidemiology, medicine, and education. It spanned three years, included two workshops and resulted in a recently published special issue of Social Science and Medicine, “Educational Attainment and Adult Health: Contextualizing Causality,” dedicated to the relationship between educational attainment and adult health.
Could Social and Emotional Learning Heighten Educational Attainment and Success in Life?An age old question regarding educational attainment and achievement has been focused on why some individuals accomplish more than others of equal intelligence. In the U.S., teachers do a good job of teaching their students the knowledge and skills required for academic achievement; however, more often than not, life skills such as creativity, perseverance, emotional intelligence and stability, charisma, self-confidence, and grit are not taught. As a result, the US has an educational environment that prioritizes academic skills at the expense of social and emotional learning.
Neuroepigenetics’ promise: A better understanding of behavior, learning, mental disordersThe question of whether behavior, or an aspect of behavior, is primarily dictated by genetics or by environmental experience has been a longstanding debate. 'Nature' and 'Nurture' have been viewed as mutually exclusive poles. Although historically, scientists believed that the genetic information we inherited from our parents was fixed in our DNA sequence, we now know that environmental factors can alter the genome in multiple ways.