Vulnerable Populations

Changes in ten years of social inequalities in health among elderly Brazilians (1998-2008)

Changes in ten years of social inequalities in health among elderly Brazilians (1998-2008)
Revista de Saude Publica, Vol. 46, supp. 1. 10.1590/S0034-89102012005000059

Lima-Costa, M.F.; L.A. Facchini; D.L. Matos, and J. Macinko

OBJECTIVE: To assess the changes in income-related inequalities in health conditions and in the use of health services among elderly Brazilians.

METHODS: Representative samples of the Brazilian population aged 60 years and more were analyzed between 1998 and 2008 (n = 27,872 and 41,198, respectively), derived from the Pesquisa Nacional por Amostra de Domicílios (National Household Sample Survey). The following variables were considered in this study: per capita monthly household income, self-rated health, physical functioning, medical consultations and hospitalizations in the previous 12 months and exclusive use of the Sistema Único de Saúde (Unified Health System). Data analysis was based on estimates of prevalence and prevalence ratios obtained with robust Poisson regression.

RESULTS: In 1998 and 2008, the prevalence of poor self-rated health, mobility limitations and inability to perform activities of daily living (ADLs), adjusted for age and sex, showed strong gradients associated with per capita household income quintiles, with the lowest values being found among those in the lowest income quintile. The prevalence ratios adjusted for age and sex between the lowest quintile (poorest individuals) and highest quintile (richest individuals) of income remained stable for poor self-rated health (PR = 3.12 [95%CI 2.79;3.51] in 1998 and 2.98 [95%CI 2.69;3.29] in 2008), mobility limitations (PR = 1.54 [95%CI 1.44;1.65 and 1.69 [95%CI 1.60;1.78], respectively) and inability to perform ADLs (PR = 1.79 [95%CI 1.52;2.11] and 2.02 [95%CI 1.78;2.29], respectively). There was a reduction in income-related disparities when three or more medical consultations had been made and with the exclusive use of the Unified Health System. Inequalities were not observed for hospitalizations. 

CONCLUSIONS: Despite reductions in income-related inequalities among indicators of use of health services, the magnitude of disparities in health conditions has not decreased. Longitudinal studies are necessary to better understand the persistence of such inequalities among elderly Brazilians.

Banking The World

Banking The World
The MIT Press

(eds.) Cull, Robert, Asli Demirgüç-Kunt and Jonathan Morduch

About 2.5 billion adults, just over half the world’s adult population, lack bank accounts. If we are to realize the goal of extending banking and other financial services to this vast “unbanked” population, we need to consider not only such product innovations as microfinance and mobile banking but also issues of data accuracy, impact assessment, risk mitigation, technology adaptation, financial literacy, and local context. In Banking the World, experts take up these topics, reporting on new research that will guide both policy makers and scholars in a broader push to extend financial markets.

The contributors consider such topics as the complexity of surveying people about their use of financial services; evidence of the impact of financial services on income; the occasional negative effects of financial services on poor households, including disincentives to work and overindebtedness; and tools for improving access such as nontraditional credit scores, financial incentives for banking, and identification technologies that can dramatically reduce loan default rates.

Asthma Hospital Admissions and Ambient Air Pollutant Concentrations in New York City

Asthma Hospital Admissions and Ambient Air Pollutant Concentrations in New York City
Journal of Environmental Protection, Vol. 3 No. 29, 2012, pp. 1102-1116. doi: 10.4236/jep.2012.329129.

C. Restrepo, J. Simonoff, G. Thurston and R. Zimmerman

Air pollution is considered a risk factor for asthma. In this paper, we analyze the association between daily hospital admissions for asthma and ambient air pollution concentrations in four New York City counties. Negative binomial regression is used to model the association between daily asthma hospital admissions and ambient air pollution concentrations. Potential confounding factors such as heat index, day of week, holidays, yearly population changes, and seasonal and long-term trends are controlled for in the models. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and carbon monoxide (CO) show the most consistent statistically significant associations with daily hospitalizations for asthma during the entire period (1996-2000). The associations are stronger for children (0 - 17 years) than for adults (18 - 64 years). Relative risks (RR) for the inter-quartile range (IQR) of same day 24-hour average pollutant concentration and asthma hospitalizations for children for the four county hospitalization totals were: NO2 (IQR = 0.011 ppm, RR = 1.017, 95% CI = 1.001, 1.034), SO2 (IQR = 0.008 ppm, RR = 1.023, 95% CI = 1.004, 1.042), CO (IQR = 0.232 ppm, RR = 1.014, 95% CI = 1.003, 1.025). In the case of ozone (O3) and particulate matter (PM2.5) statistically significant associations were found for daily one-hour maxima values and children’s asthma hospitalization in models that used lagged values for air pollution concentrations. Five-day weighted average lag models resulted in these estimates: O3 (one-hour maxima) (IQR = 0.025 ppm, RR = 1.049, 95% CI = 1.002, 1.098), PM2.5 (one-hour maxima) (IQR = 16.679 μg/m3, RR = 1.055, 95% CI = 1.008, 1.103). In addition, seasonal variations were also explored for PM2.5 and statistically significant associations with daily hospital admissions for asthma were found during the colder months (November-March) of the year. Important differences in pollution effects were found across pollutants, counties, and age groups. The results for PM2.5 suggest that the composition of PM is important to this health outcome, since the major sources of NYC PM differ between winter and summer months.

Infant Antibiotic Exposures and Early-Life Body Mass

Infant Antibiotic Exposures and Early-Life Body Mass
International Journal of Obesity , (21 August 2012) | doi:10.1038/ijo.2012.132

Trasande, Leonardo, Jan Blustein, Mengling Liu, Elise Corwin, Laura M Cox, Martin J Blaser


To examine the associations of antibiotic exposures during the first 2 years of life and the development of body mass over the first 7 years of life.


Longitudinal birth cohort study.

A total of 11 532 children born at greater than or equal to2500 g in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), a population-based study of children born in Avon, UK in 1991–1992.


Exposures to antibiotics during three different early-life time windows (


Antibiotic exposure during the earliest time window (


Exposure to antibiotics during the first 6 months of life is associated with consistent increases in body mass from 10 to 38 months. Exposures later in infancy (6–14 months, 15–23 months) are not consistently associated with increased body mass. Although effects of early exposures are modest at the individual level, they could have substantial consequences for population health. Given the prevalence of antibiotic exposures in infants, and in light of the growing concerns about childhood obesity, further studies are needed to isolate effects and define life-course implications for body mass and cardiovascular risks.

Oral health care and smoking cessation practices of interprofessional home care providers for their patients with HIV

Oral health care and smoking cessation practices of interprofessional home care providers for their patients with HIV
Journal of Interprofessional Care, July 2012, Vol. 26, No. 4 , Pages 339-340 (doi:10.3109/13561820.2012.676107)

Van Devanter, N., C..G. Dorsen, P. Messeri, D. Shelley, and A. Person

The need for oral health services among patients with HIV, especially those in advanced stages of disease and those who smoke, has been well documented. Patients receiving HIV-related home care services provide an opportunity for assessment of oral health and smoking cessation needs; however, the majority of home care providers lack formal training to provide these services, thus interprofessional collaborations may be of value. This study assessed the oral health and smoking cessation practices of a random sample of 81 HIV home care providers. Results showed very favorable attitudes toward providing these services with some differences across disciplines. More than 70% of nurses would like to receive additional training in comprehensive oral health assessment by dental professionals. The study provides evidence for the potential of expanding these services for patients with HIV through interprofessional collaboration, in particular with nurses and dentists.

Use of community-level data in the National Children's Study to establish the representativeness of segment selection in the Queens Vanguard Site.

Use of community-level data in the National Children's Study to establish the representativeness of segment selection in the Queens Vanguard Site.
Int J Health Geogr. 2012 Jun 5;11:18.

Rundle A, Rauh VA, Quinn J, Lovasi G, Trasande L, Susser E and Andrews HF.


The WHO Multiple Exposures Multiple Effects (MEME) framework identifies community contextual variables as central to the study of childhood health. Here we identify multiple domains of neighborhood context, and key variables describing the dimensions of these domains, for use in the National Children's Study (NCS) site in Queens. We test whether the neighborhoods selected for NCS recruitment, are representative of the whole of Queens County, and whether there is sufficient variability across neighborhoods for meaningful studies of contextual variables.


Nine domains (demographic, socioeconomic, households, birth rated, transit, playground/greenspace, safety and social disorder, land use, and pollution sources) and 53 indicator measures of the domains were identified. Geographic information systems were used to create community-level indicators for US Census tracts containing the 18 study neighborhoods in Queens selected for recruitment, using US Census, New York City Vital Statistics, and other sources of community-level information. Mean and inter-quartile range values for each indicator were compared for Tracts in recruitment and non-recruitment neighborhoods in Queens.


Across the nine domains, except in a very few instances, the NCS segment-containing tracts (N = 43) were not statistically different from those 597 populated tracts in Queens not containing portions of NCS segments; variability in most indicators was comparable in tracts containing and not containing segments.


In a diverse urban setting, the NCS segment selection process succeeded in identifying recruitment areas that are, as a whole, representative of Queens County, for a broad range of community-level variables.

Growing Older in Hong Kong, New York and London

Growing Older in Hong Kong, New York and London
The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust. Hong Kong.

Chau, P. Woo, J. Gusmano, MK. Weisz, D. and Rodwin, VG.

Declining birth rates, increasing longevity and urbanization have created a new challenge for cities: how to respond to an ageing population. Although population ageing and urbanization are not new concerns for national governments around the world, the consequences of these trends for quality of life in cities has only recently started to receive attention from policy makers and researchers. Few comparative studies of world cities examine their health or long-term care systems; nor have comparisons of national systems for the provision of long-term care focused on cities, let alone world cities.

By extending the work of the CADENZA and World Cities Projects , this report investigates how three world cities -- Hong Kong, New York and London -- are coping with this challenge. These world cities are centers of finance, information, media, arts, education, specialized legal services and advanced business services, and contribute disproportionate shares of GDP to their national economies. But are these influential centers prepared to meet the challenge posed by the “revolution of longevity?” How will these world cities accommodate this revolutionary demographic change? Are they prepared to implement the health and social policy innovations that may be required to serve their residents, both old and young? Will they be able to identify the new opportunities that increased longevity may offer? Can they learn from one another as they seek to develop creative solutions to the myriad issues that arise? Finally, can other cities learn from the experience of these three cities as they confront this challenge?

To address these questions, we examine comparable data on the economic and health status of older persons, as well as the availability and use of health, social and long-term care across and within these cities. In the report “How Well Are Seniors in Hong Kong Doing? An International Comparison”, a first attempt was made to compare the situation in Hong Kong with five economically developed countries. This report extends this study by comparing the situation in Hong Kong with two other world cities—New York City and London, which are more comparable in terms of population size and economic characteristics.

Medicare’s Flagship Test Of Pay-For-Performance Did Not Spur More Rapid Quality Improvement Among Low-Performing Hospitals

Medicare’s Flagship Test Of Pay-For-Performance Did Not Spur More Rapid Quality Improvement Among Low-Performing Hospitals
Health Affairs; 31(4):797-805.

Ryan, Andrew M., Jan Blustein, Lawrence P. Casalino.

Medicare’s flagship hospital pay-for-performance program, the Premier Hospital Quality Incentive Demonstration, began in 2003 but changed its incentive design in late 2006. The goals were to encourage greater quality improvement, particularly among lower-performing hospitals. However, we found no evidence that the change achieved these goals. Although the program changes were intended to provide strong incentives for improvement to the lowest-performing hospitals, we found that in practice the new incentive design resulted in the strongest incentives for hospitals that had already achieved quality performance ratings just above the median for the entire group of participating hospitals. Yet during the course of the program, these hospitals improved no more than others. Our findings raise questions about whether pay-for-performance strategies that reward improvement can generate greater improvement among lower performing providers. They also cast some doubt on the extent to which hospitals respond to the specific structure of economic incentives in pay-for-performance programs.

A Qualitative Study of Patients’ Attitudes toward HIV Testing in the Dental Setting

A Qualitative Study of Patients’ Attitudes toward HIV Testing in the Dental Setting
Nursing Research and Practice, vol. 2012, Article ID 803169, 6 pages, 2012. doi:10.1155/2012/803169

Van Devanter, N., J. Combellick, M.K. Hutchinson, J. Phelan, D. Malamud, and D. Shelley

An estimated 1.1 million people in the USA are living with HIV/AIDS. Nearly 200,000 of these individuals do not know that they are infected. In 2006, the CDC recommended that all healthcare providers routinely offer HIV screening to adolescent and adult patients. Nurse-dentist collaborations present unique opportunities to provide rapid oral HIV screening to patients in dental clinic settings and reach the many adults who lack primary medical providers. However, little is known about the feasibility and acceptability of this type of innovative practice. Thus, elicitation research was undertaken with dental providers, students, and patients. This paper reports the results of qualitative interviews with 19 adults attending a university-based dental clinic in New York City. Overall, patients held very positive attitudes and beliefs toward HIV screening in dental sites and identified important factors that should be incorporated into the design of nurse-dentist collaborative HIV screening programs.

Trajectories of cognitive decline over 10 years in a Brazilian elderly population: the Bambuí Cohort Study of Aging

Trajectories of cognitive decline over 10 years in a Brazilian elderly population: the Bambuí Cohort Study of Aging
Cadernos de Saude Publica, Vol. 27, supp. 3. 10.1590/S0102-311X2011001500003

Macinko, J., V. Camargos, J.O.A. Firmo, and M.F. Lima Costa

We use data from a population-based cohort of elderly Brazilians to assess predictors of hospitalizations during ten years of follow-up. Participants were 1,448 persons aged 60 years and over at baseline (1997). The outcome was self-reported number of hospitalizations per year. Slightly more than a fifth (23%) experienced no hospitalizations during the 10 year follow-up. About 30% had 1-2 events, 31% had between 3 and 7 events, and about 18% had 8 or more events during this time. Results of multivariable hurdle and Cox proportional hazards models showed that the risk of hospitalization was positively associated with male sex, increased age, chronic conditions, and visits to the doctors in the previous 12 months. Underweight was a predictor of any hospitalization, while obesity was an inconsistent predictor of hospitalization.


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