07:13am Monday 21 October 2019

VCU Researchers Study Health Disparities in Baltimore

A new study by researchers at the Virginia Commonwealth University Center on Human Needs examines health disparities in Baltimore, Md.

In collaboration with the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies Health Policy Institute and the Virginia Network for Geospatial Health Research, the VCU Center on Human Needs is releasing the fifth of eight studies assessing population health inequities and related social and economic conditions in urban and rural communities across the United States. Working alongside the project partners are eight “Place Matters” teams consisting of individuals who work and live in each of the communities studied.

The fifth report examines education outcomes as well as neighborhood and housing conditions and their impact on health. The team also was interested in the long-term impact of past policies that created disadvantages that disproportionately impacted racial and ethnic minorities.

“The community team in Baltimore has done a lot of previous work on health impacts related to disparities in education and housing outcomes, which our work is meant to supplement,” said Benjamin Evans, policy research manager at the VCU Center on Human Needs.

In the report, unfavorable measures of education, housing and neighborhood conditions were associated with shorter life expectancy. As late as 2009, Baltimore neighborhoods that were designated by the federal government in the 1930s as high risk for home loans and investment, due in part to the presence of a racial or ethnic minorities, were more likely to have persistently high poverty rates and lack of home ownership.

The center’s technical report has been translated into a policy brief that has been issued by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies Health Policy Institute. Read the policy brief here: http://www.jointcenter.org/research/place-matters-for-health-in-baltimore-ensuring-opportunities-for-good-health-for-all

In addition to the reports already released for San Joaquin Valley, Calif.; Orleans Parish, La.; Cook County, Ill.; and Bernalillo County, N.M., the VCU Center on Human Needs will be releasing studies over the next few months of other communities, including Oakland in Alameda County, Calif.; Boston, Mass.; and the South Delta, Miss.

The project was funded by a sub-award from the National Institutes of Health. The Health Policy Institute was the prime and also receives funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for the Place Matters initiative.

Evans collaborated with several colleagues at the VCU Center on Human Needs on this report, including Emily Zimmerman, Ph.D., assistant research professor; Steven H. Woolf, M.D., director of the Center on Human Needs, and Amber Haley, research epidemiologist.

Frances Dumenci
VCU Office of Public Affairs

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