Social Science & Medicine

Published by Elsevier BV

Online ISSN: 1873-5347


Print ISSN: 0277-9536


A good life.
  • Article

August 1993


22 Reads

T P Hill

The role of the state in health systems

December 1994


53 Reads

The object of this paper is to update the debate concerning the State's role in health systems services regarding the experience of the last decade. It is argued that it is impossible to give an account of the problem's complexity without bearing in mind the social science contribution concerning the crisis in Welfare States.

State and health

February 1989


18 Reads

This paper examines the health functions of the state in the F.R.G. in their historical, political and socio-economic inter-relationships. The main focus is on the antagonistic interests of the social classes. Special emphasis is placed on an analysis of the health political state intervention of 1974 which marked the beginning of the far-reaching economic crisis. There were serious restrictions placed on utilization such as co-payments and other interventions: commercialization; privatization; individualization; and the rationalization of public services. Moreover, as the data show, there have been massive transferences within the public service system at the expense of the socially insured.

Shaw C, Abrams K, Marteau TMPsychological impact of predicting individuals' risk of illness: a systematic review. Soc Sci Med 49: 1571-1598, doi10.1016/S0277-9536(99)00244-0

January 2000


96 Reads

The aim of this review is to determine the frequency and circumstances under which predicting individuals' risk of illness has adverse psychological effects. Using systematic review methodology, the literature was searched for studies that had assessed the adverse psychological outcomes of risk assessment programmes. The outcomes investigated are emotional (anxiety, depression, distress) cognitive (intrusive thoughts, perceptions of health) and behaviour (work absenteeism). The impact of both positive and negative test results are summarised in terms of the number of studies showing significant effects between and within groups in the short (one month or less) and longer term (more than one month). Where sufficient data were available, a meta-analysis was conducted to assess effect size. Fifty-four studies met the criteria for inclusion. The studies assessed the impact of informing individuals about cardiovascular risk (21), risk of AIDS (eight), risk of cancer (10), risk of Huntington's disease (10), risk of diabetes (two), risk of spinocerebellar ataxia (one) and risk of osteoporosis (two). Overall, the quality of studies assessed was limited, with only two using a randomised design to determine the psychological impact of risk assessment. Receiving a positive test result was associated in the short term in the great majority of studies with depression, anxiety, poorer perceptions of health and psychological distress. Data were available for a quantitative synthesis of results on three outcomes, anxiety, depression and distress. Anxiety and depression were significantly higher in those tested positive compared with those tested negative in the short term but not the longer term. Distress could only be assessed in the longer term: there was no evidence of an increase for those receiving positive test results. The five experimental studies that reported interventions aimed at preventing some of these adverse effects all reported favourable results. There was little evidence of any adverse psychological effects of receiving an unfavourable test result. Adverse psychological effects are a common immediate consequence of positive test results following risk assessment. Results from the few experimental studies reviewed suggest that these adverse outcomes should not be seen as inevitable.

Time-space clustering of Vibrio cholerae 01 in Matlab, Bangladesh, 1970–1982

February 1988


23 Reads

Growing evidence for the existence of an aquatic reservoir of Vibrio cholerae has led some observers to postulate the existence of two distinct modes of disease transmission: primary and secondary. In primary transmission vibrios pass from the aquatic reservoir to humans via edible aquatic flora or fauna, or drinking water. Secondary transmission consists of faecal-oral transmission from person-to-person and may spawn epidemics. Cholera outbreaks are particularly well documented for the Matlab area of Bangladesh, where a field station has been run since 1963, at which patients from a study population of nearly 200,000 are treated for diarrhoeal diseases and monitored in a longitudinal demographic surveillance system. This paper seeks to illuminate the process of secondary transmission by presenting preliminary results of an analysis of the time-space distribution of cholera cases in Matlab for the period 1970-1982. It is argued that the detection of time-space clusters of cases resulting from secondary transmission requires locational data below the level of the village, that is at the level of the bari, or patrilineally-related household group because this is where inter-personal contact is greatest. The mapping of the study area at the bari level is described briefly and it is argued that the proportion of all asymptomatic infections and cases which can be mapped is great enough to enable inferences about transmission processes to be drawn. Results of the analysis of time-space interaction using the Knox method are presented and provide some support for within-bari clustering of cases resulting from secondary transmission.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Fig. 1. Participant fl ow diagram. 
Fig. 2. PANEL A Impacts of full program (Phase 1). Impacts of "Wþ" partner inclusion (Phase 2). These panels display the standardized results of intention-to-treat (ITT) ordinary least squares (OLS) regressions of each outcome on an indicator of assignment to treatment among women (immediate treatment in Panel A (Phase 1); Wþ in panel B (Phase 2), a stratum fixed effect, and baseline covariates. The point estimates were standardized by dividing the coefficient on assignment by the control group standard deviation (Glass's D).
Table 3 Impacts of full program (Phase 1): Primary outcomes and selected economic outcomes.
Women's entrepreneurship and intimate partner violence: A cluster randomized trial of microenterprise assistance and partner participation in post-conflict Uganda (SSM-D-14-01580R1)
  • Article
  • Full-text available

March 2015


1,951 Reads

Intimate partner violence is widespread and represents an obstacle to human freedom and a significant public health concern. Poverty alleviation programs and efforts to economically "empower" women have become popular policy options, but theory and empirical evidence are mixed on the relationship between women's empowerment and the experience of violence. We study the effects of a successful poverty alleviation program on women's empowerment and intimate partner relations and violence from 2009 to 2011. In the first experiment, a cluster-randomized superiority trial, 15 marginalized people (86% women) were identified in each of 120 villages (n = 1800) in Gulu and Kitgum districts in Uganda. Half of villages were randomly assigned via public lottery to immediate treatment: five days of business training, $150, and supervision and advising. We examine intent-to-treat estimates of program impact and heterogeneity in treatment effects by initial quality of partner relations. 16 months after the initial grants, the program doubled business ownership and incomes (p < 0.01); we show that the effect on monthly income, however, is moderated by initial quality of intimate partner relations. We also find small increases in marital control (p < 0.05), self-reported autonomy (p < 0.10), and quality of partner relations (p < 0.01), but essentially no change in intimate partner violence. In a second experiment, we study the impact of a low-cost attempt to include household partners (often husbands) in the process. Participants from the 60 waitlist villages (n = 904) were randomly assigned to participate in the program as individuals or with a household partner. We observe small, non-significant decreases in abuse and marital control and large increases in the quality of relationships (p < 0.05), but no effects on women's attitudes toward gender norms and a non-significant reduction in autonomy. Involving men and changing framing to promote more inclusive programming can improve relationships, but may not change gender attitudes or increase business success. Increasing women's earnings has no effect on intimate partner violence. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Social class and health in youth: findings from the West of Scotland Twenty-07 Study

February 1990


50 Reads

The assumption that social class inequalities in health are a persistent feature of the life-course has been questioned in a recent issue of this journal. On the evidence of mortality and chronic illness, the pattern in youth in Britain appears to be characterised by the lack of class differentials, a striking contrast to early adulthood where the familiar picture of health inequalities is observed. The possibility that this finding of relative equality in youth is a consequence of the limited, and potentially inappropriate, health indicators used has now been tested on a cohort of 15-year-olds in the West of Scotland. On a range of indicators, from subjective assessments to objective physical measures, very little evidence of class variation in health is found. The possible transience of the youth pattern is, however, indicated by findings from a cohort of 35-year-olds in the same study, among whom marked class gradients in health are apparent. Possible explanations for the transformation of a pattern of relative class equality in youth into one of inequalities in adulthood are discussed.

Breast-feeding, day-care attendance and the frequency of antibiotic treatments from 1.5 to 5 years: A population-based longitudinal study in Canada

June 2005


63 Reads

This paper aims to study, at the population level, the protective role of breast-feeding on child health and its relation to day-care attendance during the first 5 years of life. The analysis, done on a national sample of children, uses antibiotic treatments as a general measure of health. It takes into account mother's education level, family poverty level, mother's smoking status during pregnancy and after birth, mother's age, sex, gestation duration, and birth rank. The analyses were performed using data from the Longitudinal Study of Child Development in Quebec (LSCDQ), conducted by Santé Québec, a division of the Institut de la Statistique du Québec (ISQ). The study was based on face-to-face interviews and included a set of questionnaires addressed to the children's mothers and fathers. A total of 1841 were included in the sample analyzed. Detailed information on breast-feeding and complementary feeding was collected at 5 and 17 months through face-to-face interviews with the most knowledgeable person, generally the mother. From this information, it has been possible to estimate breast-feeding duration and exclusivity. Our results indicate that the positive effects of breast-feeding on health persist up to the second year of life, even in the presence of day-care attendance. The analyses indicate that breast-feeding reduced the number of antibiotic treatments given to children entering day care before 2.5 years of age. The study also indicates that the more-at-risk children could be protected by breast-feeding and by being taken care of in a familial setting, especially before 2.5 years of age. Mother's education, family poverty level, and other social inequality indicators did not play a role in the frequency of antibiotic treatments. Over the long term, it will be important to continue to monitor the health of children and to implement public health interventions aimed at reducing health problems among children of preschool age.

Acculturation and mental health: A study of Hmong refugees at 1.5 and 3.5 years postmigration

February 1984


43 Reads

This study of Hmong refugees at 1.5 and 3.5 years following arrival in the United States showed considerable improvement on psychiatric self-rating scales. Social changes over the 2 year interim (including a high unemployment rate) were few. Earlier premigration and postmigration variables correlated with high symptom levels at 1.5 years were not correlated with these symptoms at 3.5 years. Events in the acculturation process which accompany, and perhaps account for some of these observations are indicated.

Mishra G, Kuh D. Perceived change in quality of life during the menopause. Soc Sci Med 62: 93-102

January 2006


187 Reads

The directly attributable effect of menopausal transition on women's quality of life (QoL) remains unclear. This study investigates the relationship between perceived change in QoL and menopausal transition status, socio-economic circumstances, lifestyle factors, and life stress. Prospective data were collected from a cohort of 1525 British women followed up since their birth in 1946 and annually from 47 to 54 years. Following factor analysis, the 10 survey items for perceived change were combined into three QoL domains: physical health (physical health, energy level, and body weight), psychosomatic status (nervous and emotional state, self-confidence, work life, ability to make decisions, and ability to concentrate), and personal life (family life and time for self, hobbies, and interests).

Mortality by occupational class among men 30-64 years in 11 European countries. EU Working Group on Socioeconomic Inequalities in Health

July 1998


15 Reads

This study compares eleven countries with respect to the magnitude of mortality differences by occupational class, paying particular attention to problems with the reliability and comparability of the data that are available for different countries. Nationally representative data on mortality by occupational class among men 30-64 years at death were obtained from longitudinal and cross-sectional studies. A common social class scheme was applied to most data sets. The magnitude of mortality differences was quantified by three summary indices. Three major data problems were identified and their potential effect on inequality estimates was quantified for each country individually. For men 45-59 years, the mortality rate ratio comparing manual classes to non-manual classes was about equally large for four Nordic countries, England and Wales, Ireland, Switzerland, Italy, Spain and Portugal. Relatively large ratios were only observed for France. The same applied to men 60 64 years (data for only 5 countries, including France). For men 30-44 years, there was evidence for smaller mortality differences in Italy and larger differences in Norway, Sweden and especially Finland (no data for France and Spain). Application of other summary indices to men 45-59 years showed slightly different patterns. When the population distribution over occupational classes was taken into account, relatively small differences were observed for Switzerland, Italy and Spain. When national mortality levels were taken into account, relatively large differences were observed for Finland and Ireland. For each summary index, however, France leads the international league table. Data problems were found to have the potential to bias inequality estimates, substantially especially those for Ireland, Spain and Portugal. This study underlines the similarities rather than the dissimilarities between European countries. There is no evidence that mortality differences are smaller in countries with more egalitarian socio-economic and other policies.

Social inequalities and health among children aged 10-11 in The Netherlands: Causes and consequences

June 1995


20 Reads

Socioeconomic health differences (SEHD) are relatively small in childhood. In adolescence they almost seem to disappear and among young adults they re-emerge. This article deals with mechanisms that contribute to the emergence of health differences by studying a group of 10-11 year old children in The Netherlands (n = 908). The role of determinants of health in the relation between socioeconomic status and health (causation) is studied, as well as the influence of health on school performance (selection). Both causation and selection mechanisms prove to exist. Life style and life circumstances are unequally distributed among the socioeconomic groups and can (partly) explain the relation between socioeconomic status and health. The health of the children is related with school performance, which can be seen as health selection. This relation however was only found in the lowest socioeconomic groups. In the lowest socioeconomic groups less healthy children perform worse at school than healthy children. The unequal distribution of determinants of health and health selection in the educational career among children probably contribute to SEHD in adult life.

Do area characteristics predict change in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity from ages 11 to 15 years?

February 2011


60 Reads

In light of geographical and epidemiological research suggesting that the socioeconomic environment beyond the family may influence children's physical activity, this study investigated the extent to which neighbourhood socioeconomic conditions predict change in physical activity from ages 10 through 15 years, controlling for the attributes of the individual child and family. Data came from 889 children participating in the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development cohort study. Accelerometers measured Moderate-to-Vigorous Physical Activity (MVPA) during the week and weekend, when the children were aged 10, 11, and 15 years. Selected US census block variables were used to create 'independent' area measures of economic deprivation and social fragmentation scores for child's area of residence at age 10 years. Also, parents' perception of neighbourhood social cohesion was measured in terms of relationships with neighbours. All analyses controlled for participant characteristics: gender, ethnicity, household income-to-needs ratio, maternal education, and for United States region of residence. Growth curve analyses indicated that whereas social fragmentation did not predict MVPA over time, greater area deprivation at age 10 years was associated with lower weekday MVPA for boys at 10 years (β=-0.5, p=0.03) and these differences persisted to age 11 and 15 years. This relationship was reversed for girls. Weekend MVPA was not significantly associated with the level of deprivation in the place of residence at age 10 years. Although the census measure of social fragmentation in the area of residence showed no significant association with MVPA, parent-reported neighbourhood social cohesion was positively associated with weekday (β=2.0, p<0.01) and weekend (β=3.1, p<0.01) MVPA minutes across time. This association was most pronounced for boys. Area level factors may be determinants of physical activity among children and youth in complex ways and parental perception of area social environment may be as important for children's activity levels as 'independently assessed' socioeconomic conditions.

Why are early maturing girls less active? Links between pubertal development, psychological well-being, and physical activity among girls at ages 11 and 13

July 2007


191 Reads


Jessica L Werder





Previous research has shown that early maturing girls at age 11 have lower subsequent physical activity at age 13 in comparison to later maturing girls. Possible reasons for this association have not been assessed. This study examines girls' psychological response to puberty and their enjoyment of physical activity as intermediary factors linking pubertal maturation and physical activity. Participants included 178 girls who were assessed at age 11, of whom 168 were reassessed at age 13. All participants were non-Hispanic white and resided in the US. Three measures of pubertal development were obtained at age 11 including Tanner breast stage, estradiol levels, and mothers' reports of girls' development on the Pubertal Development Scale (PDS). Measures of psychological well-being at ages 11 and 13 included depression, global self-worth, perceived athletic competence, maturation fears, and body esteem. At age 13, girls' enjoyment of physical activity was assessed using the Physical Activity Enjoyment Scale and their daily minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) were assessed using objective monitoring. Structural Equation Modeling was used to assess direct and indirect pathways between pubertal development at age 11 and MVPA at age 13. In addition to a direct effect of pubertal development on MVPA, indirect effects were found for depression, global self-worth and maturity fears controlling for covariates. In each instance, more advanced pubertal development at age 11 was associated with lower psychological well-being at age 13, which predicted lower enjoyment of physical activity at age 13 and in turn lower MVPA. Results from this study suggest that programs designed to increase physical activity among adolescent girls should address the self-consciousness and discontent that girls' experience with their bodies during puberty, particularly if they mature earlier than their peers, and identify activities or settings that make differences in body shape less conspicuous.

Health status and health care utilization following collective trauma: A 3-year national study of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States

August 2011


56 Reads

The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks (9/11) presented a unique opportunity to assess the physical health impact of collective stress in the United States. This study prospectively examined rates of physical ailments and predictors of health care utilization in a U.S. nationally representative sample over three years following the attacks. A sample of adults (N = 2592) completed a survey before 9/11/01 that assessed MD-diagnosed physical and mental health ailments. Follow-up surveys were administered at one (N = 1923), two (N = 1576), and three (N = 1950) years post-9/11 to assess MD-diagnosed physical health ailments (e.g., cardiovascular, endocrine) and health care utilization. Reports of physical ailments increased 18% over three years following 9/11. 9/11-related exposure, lifetime and post-9/11 stress, MD-diagnosed depression/anxiety, smoking status, age, and female gender predicted increased incidence of post-9/11 ailments, after controlling for pre-9/11 health. After adjusting for covariates (demographics, somatization, smoking status, pre-9/11 mental and physical health, lifetime and post-9/11 stress, and degree of 9/11-related exposure), increases in MD-diagnosed cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal, and hematology-oncology ailments predicted greater utilization of health care services over two years. After the collective stress of 9/11, rates of physical ailments increased and predicted greater health care utilization in a U.S. national sample.

The "biosecuritization" of healthcare delivery: Examples of post-9/11 technological imperatives

February 2011


92 Reads

This paper develops the concept of "biosecuritization" to describe new instantiations of the technological imperative in healthcare. Many discourses and practices surrounding hospitals' new investments in information and communication technologies tend to revolve around security provision. Often times, however, scenarios of extreme and exceptional circumstances are used to justify the implementation of identification and tracking technologies that may be more about managerial control than patient care. Drawing upon qualitative research in 23 U.S. hospitals from 2007 to 2009, our analysis focuses on hospitals' deployment of identification and location technologies that manage patients, track personnel, and generate data in real-time. These systems are framed as aiding in the process of managing supplies and medications for pandemic flu outbreaks, monitoring exposure patterns for infectious diseases, and helping triage or manage the location and condition of patients during mass casualty disasters. We show that in spite of the framing of security and emergency preparedness, these technologies are primarily managerial tools for hospital administrators. Just as systems can be used to track infection vectors, those same systems can be used on a daily basis to monitor the workflow of hospital personnel, including nurses, physicians, and custodial staff, and to discipline or reward according to performance. In other words, the biosecuritization modality of the technological imperative leads to the framing of medical progress as the "rationalization" of organizations through technological monitoring, which is intended to promote accountability and new forms of responsibilization of healthcare workers.

Intrauterine stress and male cohort quality: The case of September 11, 2001

November 2012


21 Reads

Empirical research and the theory of natural selection assert that male mortality more than female mortality responds to ambient stressors in utero. Although population stressors may adversely damage males that survive to birth, the rival culled cohort hypothesis contends that males born during stressful times may exhibit better health than males in other cohorts because fetal loss has "culled" the frailest males. We tested these hypotheses by examining child developmental outcomes in a U.S. birth cohort reportedly affected in utero by the September 11, 2001 attacks. We used as outcomes the Bayley cognitive score and child height-for-age from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort. Previous research demonstrates a male-specific effect of 9/11 on California infants born in December 2001. We, therefore, compared cognition and height of this cohort with males born prior to the 9/11 attacks. We controlled for unobserved confounding across gender, season, and region by using triple-difference regression models (N = 6950). At 24 months, California males born in December scored greater than expected in cognitive ability (coef = 9.55, standard error = 3.37; p = 0.004). We observed no relation with height. Results remained robust to alternative specifications. Findings offer partial support for the culled cohort hypothesis in that we observed greater than expected cognitive scores at two years of age among a cohort of males affected by 9/11 in utero. Contemporary population stressors may induce male-specific culling, thereby resulting in relatively improved development among males that survive to birth.

Figure 1: Self-rated health, symptoms and depression (%) at ages 11, 13 and 15  
Sex differences in health at ages 11, 13 and 15

February 2003


208 Reads

This paper tests the hypothesis of an emerging or increasing female excess in general ill-health and physical symptoms, as well as psychological distress, during early to mid-adolescence. Self-reported data on general health (longstanding illness and health in the last 12 months), recent symptoms (classified as 'physical' and 'malaise') and depressive mood were obtained from a large, Scottish, school-based cohort at ages 11, 13 and 15. Generally high levels of health problems at age 11 tended to increase with age, these increases being greater for females than males, not only in respect of depression and 'malaise' symptoms, but also limiting illness, 'poor' self-rated health, headaches, stomach problems and dizziness. The consequence, by age 15, is the emergence of a female excess in general ill-health and depressive mood, and a substantial strengthening of the small excess in both 'physical' and 'malaise' symptoms already apparent at 11 years. These findings are discussed in relation to explanations for the adult female excess in poorer health, and the emergence of a female excess of depression during adolescence.

Gradients in risk for youth injury associated with multiple-risk behaviours: A study of 11,329 Canadian adolescents

October 2002


52 Reads

This study used the Canadian version of the World Health Organization-Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children (WHO-HBSC) Survey to examine the role of multiple risk behaviours and other social factors in the etiology of medically attended youth injury. 11,329 Canadians aged 11-15 years completed the 1997-1998 WHO-HBSC, of which 4152 (36.7%) reported at least one medically attended injury. Multiple logistic regression analyses failed to identify an expected association between lower socio-economic status and risk for injury. Strong gradients in risk for injury were observed according to the numbers of multiple risk behaviours reported. Youth reporting the largest number (7) of risk behaviours experienced injury rates that were 4.11 times (95% CI: 3.04-5.55) higher than those reporting no high risk behaviours (adjusted odds ratios for 0-7 reported behaviours: 1.00, 1.13, 1.49, 1.79, 2.28, 2.54, 2.62, 4.11; p(trend) < 0.001). Similar gradients in risk were observed within subgroups of young people defined by grade, sex, and socio-economic level, and within restricted analyses of various injury types (recreational, sports, home, school injuries). The gradients were especially pronounced for severe injury types and among those reporting multiple injuries. The analyses suggest that multiple risk behaviours may play an important role in the social etiology of youth injury, but these same analyses provide little evidence for a socio-economic risk gradient. The findings in turn have implications for preventive interventions.

Kuntsche E, Rehm J, Gmel G. Characteristics of binge drinkers in Europe. Soc Sci Med 59, 113-127

August 2004


1,713 Reads

Binge drinking has been shown to be associated with considerable social harm and disease burden. This review aims to give an overview from a European perspective of the socio-demographical, individual, and social factors that affect binge drinking and to identify effective interventions to reduce binge drinking. To this end, a computer-assisted search of relevant articles was conducted. Results showed that males tended to binge drinking more frequently than females. Binge drinking was most prevalent among adolescents and young adults, and prevalence levelled off later in life. Socio-economic conditions seemed to have an effect on binge drinking, independent of their effects on the volume of alcohol consumed. The early onset of binge drinking was associated with a history of drinking in the family, but pathways into adulthood are less clear. Binge drinking often co-occurred with other substance use. Motives for binge drinking included both social camaraderie and tension reduction. Which aspect prevails may vary according to the type of binge drinker, but to date has not been satisfactorily explained. Binge drinkers were not likely to know enough about or be aware of the potential risks of bingeing. Pressure from peers was one of the strongest influencing factors for binge drinking and seemed to outweigh parental influences, especially from late adolescence onwards. Binge drinking also varied according to both the predominant adult and adolescent drinking culture with more binge drinking in the northern and middle parts of Europe compared to the southern parts. Thus, a variety of socio-demographical, individual, and social characteristics associated with binge drinking have been identified. However, knowledge in this area is limited, as most research has been conducted among particular groups in specific situations, in particular North American college students. More research in Europe is urgently needed, as results from other cultural backgrounds are difficult to generalize.

Summary statistics of key variables.
Inequality, race, and mortality in U.S. cities: A political and econometric review of Deaton and Lubotsky (56:6, 1139–1153, 2003)
Our replication of Deaton and Lubotsky's [(2003). Mortality, inequality and race in American cities and states. Social Science & Medicine, 56.] study "Mortality, Inequality and Race in American Cities and States" identifies a coding error in the econometric analysis in the original paper. Correcting the error changes the basic results of the paper with respect to inequality and mortality in a relevant and substantive way. We also propose an alternative interpretation of the other main result of the paper regarding racial composition and mortality.

Rasch analysis of the whole of the prescription intention questionnaire (PIQ)
Rasch analysis of the IO statements eliminated from the first dimension (n = 113)
Comparison of Rasch dimensional scores as a function of the use of each of the I2 information channels (n = 117)
Prescription Intentions in Relation to Therapeutic Information: a Study of 117 French General Practitioners

February 1991


27 Reads

In 1987 we conducted a mailed questionnaire survey involving 250 GPs, randomly drawn from the 3061 GPs in the 'Rhône-Alpes' region in France, in order to study how general practitioners (GPs) react to information about drugs in terms of their prescribing practices. The aim of the questionnaire was to investigate the GPs reactions (prescription intentions) to 25 statements containing information concerning drugs. These included results from randomized clinical trials with adequate clinical criteria (pertinent information), but there were also some statements containing non-relevant information such as intermediate criteria, physiopathological or pharmacological information, and some containing general information such as advice from colleagues, the established position of the drug etc. The GPs were also asked through which channels they commonly received therapeutic information (i.e. medical journals, conferences). A total of 117 GPs returned completed questionnaires. We found the prescription intentions, for pertinent information to be between 76.9% and 95.7%, whilst the intentions, as a result of personal knowledge and/or success with a drug were around 93%. More theoretical information resulted in prescription intentions which were more widely scattered (between 23.1% and 80.3%), and for external advice the intentions were not as high but they were also widely scattered (between 3.4% and 65%). The search for latent dimensions corresponding to GPs reactions to therapeutic information, with both principal component analysis and Rasch Modelling, showed that two orthogonal latent dimensions, i.e. 'sensitivity to clinical and theoretical information', and 'sensitivity to external standards', best explained the responses to the questionnaire. These two dimensions appeared to be independent of age, sex, medical school and type of practice (urban, rural). The use of the journal 'Prescrire' by GPs was found to be significantly associated (P less than 0.005) with low scores, or good quality of perception of pertinent information in the first dimension. The use of specialists' prescriptions was associated with similar scores for the first dimension, but also with poor quality of perception of pertinent information scores (i.e. high scores) for the second dimension. These results could be used to draw up proposals for the improvement of post-graduate medical education, which should take into consideration these two dimensions of therapeutic information assessment by doctors, in order to obtain better quality of perception profiles for information assessment and prescription by doctors.

Social capital and health: implications for public health and Epidemiology. Social Science and Medicine, 47, 9: 1181-1188

December 1998


100 Reads

Public health and its "basic science", epidemiology, have become colonised by the individualistic ethic of medicine and economics. Despite a history in public health dating back to John Snow that underlined the importance of social systems for health, an imbalance has developed in the attention given to generating "social capital" compared to such things as modification of individual's risk factors. In an illustrative analysis comparing the potential of six progressively less individualised and more community-focused interventions to prevent deaths from heart disease, social support and measures to increase social cohesion faired well against more individual medical care approaches. In the face of such evidence public health professionals and epidemiologists have an ethical and strategic decision concerning the relative effort they give to increasing social cohesion in communities vs expanding access for individuals to traditional public health programs. Practitioners' relative efforts will be influenced by the kind of research that is being produced by epidemiologists and by the political climate of acceptability for voluntary individual "treatment" approaches vs universal policies to build "social capital". For epidemiologists to further our emerging understanding of the link between social capital and health they must confront issues in measurement, study design and analysis. For public health advocates to sensitise the political environment to the potential dividend from building social capital, they must confront the values that focus on individual-level causal models rather than models of social structure (dis)integration. The evolution of explanations for inequalities in health is used to illustrate the nature of the change in values.

Adapting to the unemployed role: A longitudinal investigation. Social Science and Medicine, 25, 1219-1224

February 1987


61 Reads

A sample of unemployed British men was interviewed for a third time after an average of 25 months continuous unemployment. As predicted, it was found that mental health, indexed in terms of affective well-being, had improved slightly since the previous interview. Adaptation of this kind was greater for men who had previously reported lower commitment to having a job and greater contact outside their immediate family, and also for those at the extremes of the age range. Measured availability of money and quality of social relationships were not related to adaptation. Changes in aspiration, autonomy and competence were considered likely to underpin the improvement in well-being. The need to study these additional components of mental health was emphasized, in order to determine when improvements in reported well-being should be considered 'healthy' or 'unhealthy'.

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