Poverty, Violence, and Health

Tuesday, April 17, 2007 at 10:49 AM

For reasons that I consider obvious, there seems to be renewed medical interest in exploring the effect that poverty has on the health of the poor.

Here's a short review of what some recent studies have reported (abstracts of the studies, if one exists, can be found on the National Library of Medicine web site's "PubMed" database.

In a study of New York City residents that began in 2002, the authors of Urban neighborhood poverty and the incidence of depression in a population-based cohort study, published in the Annals of Epidemiology (vol 17, No. 3, page 171) report that they found an independent association between socioeconomic status (SES) of a person's neighborhood and the likelihood of developing depression.

Another team of researchers undertook a study of 100 African American neonates whose families resided in low-income environments. In Parsing the relations between SES and stress reactivity: examining individual differences in neonatal stress response, published in the journal Infant Behavior & Development (vol 30, No. 1, page 134), the authors report that they found associations between infant behavior, measured by physiologic and behavioral response to being pricked in the heel, and the infant's score on the Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale, and "three domains of perinatal risk: socio-demographic, obstetrical complications, and maternal psychological factors during the perinatal period." They report that "Greater magnitude of perinatal risk was associated with both higher and lower than average neonatal stress reactivity."

Switching to an analysis of what relationship might exist between rates of childhood asthma and rates of violent assault in the community, the authors of The association between childhood asthma and community violence, Los Angeles County, 2000 , published in the journal Public Health Reports (vol 121, No. 6, page 720) found a statistically significant correlation between hospitalization rates for childhood asthma and community violence as measured by the rate of hospitalization for assault.

Finally, the article Social capital, socio-economic status and psychological distress among Australian adults, published in the journal Social Science & Medicine (vol 63, No. 10, page 2546), reports that "having trust in people, feeling safe in the community and having social reciprocity are associated with lower risk of mental health distress."

Poverty and violence are not, it seems, merely some abstract philosophical states that matter only in the context of some partisan discussion of economic and social policy (nor are poverty and violence unrelated to each other). There is considerable evidence indicating that both poverty and violence affect the physical and mental health of those who experience them. And if they do, is there any doubt that the rest of society is affected in various adverse ways by this impact on the poor and violence-exposed?

Comments

Lee wonders, "There is considerable evidence indicating that both poverty and violence affect the physical and mental health of those who experience them. And if they do, is there any doubt that the rest of society is affected in various adverse ways by this impact on the poor and violence-exposed?"

First, you accuse the rich of somehow making others 'poor,' and now you spread fear of the 'poor.' What's the deal?

The "Great Society" creates ghettos all over the US, and are now conducting studies in them, and where they seemingly use those studies to spread fear of violence from the 'poor.' I just don't understand the Left, whatsoever!?! Why are these welfare communities suffering bad health??? Where is the "Great Society?"

Better write the majority and tell them to provide their ghettos with better medical care than they already HAVE!

I'll bet you can take enough money from everyone so that your ghettos can be healthier than those you take the funds from!!! Instead of violence from .02 percent of the population, you can get your revolution in violence from over 50%.

You guys are so smart, so sensitive, so ... so ...