Online Program

Health behaviors in a social context

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Kia Davis, MPH, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Background: In 2010, economic insecurity reached a 25 year high with almost 1 in 5 Americans estimated as being “insecure”. Though all states experienced record levels of economic insecurity, states with higher proportions of minorities or those with a high school diploma were disproportionately affected. During this same time, United States crime rates were declining overall except for violent crime rates in areas more likely to be urban and have higher percentages of minorities and those with low education. Research on these intimately linked social phenomena tends to focus on the association with social disorder. However, less research explores how the social patterning of economic insecurity and crime by race and class in the US affects health behaviors and health. Methods: As such, we propose a multilevel, socio-contextual model for considering economic insecurity and crime as social determinants of health behaviors in urban minority communities. Results: With heightened media attention around violent crimes in urban communities and forecasts of slower economic recovery for minorities, we must consider economic insecurity and crime as structural barriers that impact the health behaviors and therefore health of minority communities. Discussion: Economic insecurity and crime in the United Sates affect the patterns of disease distribution through historical roots in race- and class-based policies. Elucidating this patterning will provide the opportunity for a systems based approach to policy and intervention development that address the context in which individuals makes choices as opposed to solely addressing individuals.

Learning Areas:

Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Explain how crime could be considered as a social determinant of health.

Keyword(s): Vulnerable Populations, Behavioral Research

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: As part of my doctoral program, I have received training in the theories of disease distribution. Additionally, I have researched the historical context of crime and economic insecurity in the United States in class and as research to prepare me for my dissertation.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.