In the News
The Causes of Shorter Life Expectancies in America
To the Editor:
Re “Where the Poor Live in America May Help Determine Life Span”: Ya think?
Public health researchers have known for decades that place — and the inequities in those places — determine the health status of whole populations. This new research is important because it helps us get a closer look at why. But there is also a danger that policy makers may get distracted by a single factor among the intertwined social determinants of health.
Researchers try to untangle these factors so they can get a better look at the problem, but solutions have to consider the whole picture. Controlling for race, for example, is useful for epidemiology but dangerous for public policy. For that we need a wide-angle lens that takes in the entire landscape, so all the social determinants of health can be factored in to the public policies that shape people’s neighborhoods, and, ultimately, their lives.
The writer is director of the Berkeley Media Studies Group, a project of the Public Health Institute.
Originally published by New York Times