ACA, Violence, and Social Networks: Annual Review of Public Health Volume 38

We are pleased to remind everyone that the 2017 volume of the Annual Review of Public Health, now online, is published open access under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) license. This influential content is now freely available to read, reuse, and share. Additionally, all 37 back volumes (1980-2016) are now free to read. Support for this initiative to increase openness and transparency in research is provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Here are a few content highlights for your reading pleasure:

There is still a lot of debate over the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and I recommend the article “The Affordable Care Act’s Impacts on Access to Insurance and Health Care for Low-Income Populations” by Kominski, Nonzee, and Sorensen as interesting background reading.  I was particularly interested in the discussion about the people who are still uninsured, and struck by the geographical implications:

Almost 90% of all adults in the coverage gap live in the South, half in either Texas or Florida, which aligns with this region’s high uninsurance rates, limited Medicaid eligibility, and low uptake of Medicaid expansion (37). Consistent with demographic characteristics and policies excluding nondisabled adults in states that did not expand Medicaid, African Americans and childless adults also account for a disproportionate share of individuals in the coverage gap.

Another article that demanded my attention is “Climate Change and Collective Violence” by Levy, Sidel, and Patz.  When people talk about the effects of climate change they mostly focus on sea levels and food harvests, but take things a couple of steps further and one of the things you can see is increased violence.  Some of the conclusions addressed in this article are quite startling:

Studying conflict in sub-Saharan Africa between 1981 and 2002, Burke and colleagues found a significant association between warmer temperature and civil war. On the basis of their findings, they projected an approximately 54% increase in armed conflict in Africa by 2030, with an additional 393,000 battle-related deaths, assuming wars in the future are as deadly as recent wars.

It’s a complicated and well written article that also addresses some ways of preventing this violence.  It’s on the top of my reading list.

pu38-social networksAnother article on my famed reading list is Valente and Pitts’ article, “An Appraisal of Social Network Theory and Analysis as Applied to Public Health: Challenges and Opportunities.”  What drew my interest here was the section about research being done around social media and the Internet’s effect on health:

The evidence suggests that mediated communications can influence individual behaviors but they do so at a rate much lower than face-to-face communications do (37). Still, people can have hundreds, even thousands or more, of online contacts, which increases the potential for much influence. Moreover, some forms of mediated communications may be particularly influential. For example, specialty communities that emerge in forums such as PatientsLikeMe may be very influential because they offer a place where people can share information about extremely important and relevant topics among members of a specific community.

Of course anytime someone is doing research in social media it raises ethics and privacy concerns which the article also addresses as a problem that needs close review.  For instance this troubling case:

In a similarly publicized study, Kramer and others (48) used Facebook as a social psychology laboratory and manipulated users’ Facebook News Feeds to induce negative or positive affect to study the social contagion of emotions. Facebook users did not provide overt consent to participate in the study, and many felt that their rights were violated (35). Furthermore, participants of in-person experimental studies are often debriefed when their study participation has concluded to reduce the likelihood that the study’s manipulations and procedures caused harm, yet no such debriefing was performed in this study.

So as usual Public Health provides much food for thought and interesting weekend reading!