The topic I would like to focus on in my final project is education and population health in the USA. Namely, I would like to explore benefits education makes on health outcomes and potential disadvantages that occur in the absence of the latter.
Education is critical to population health both at individual and community levels. While access to resources and knowledge transfer determine the impact on an individual’s health, environments of people determine the impact on communities. According to the US Population Reference Bureau, Americans with a high school degree are expected to live ten years more than those who have completed college (as cited in Hummer & Hernandez, 2013). The evidence shows that more educated people tend to suffer less from chronic diseases and acute conditions, while this occurs due to their awareness of their own health, regular exercising, and adequate access to health care services (Zimmerman, Woolf, & Haley, 2015). Undereducated people have difficulties with receiving appropriate health services, and they are more prone to such diseases as diabetes, strokes, and asthma. Some other social, economic, and political factors related to how education impacts health outcomes should be revealed. At the same time, it is critical to determine whether health affects the level of education or not.
Considering the existing health disparities between people with different education or its complete absence, it is essential to investigate associations between education and population health in an in-depth manner and determine potential options for health improvement. This study should be conducted as the current state of the problem is uneven and needs to be clarified. As a result of the final project, it is expected to provide some relevant recommendations on how to improve the current situation.
- Limited access of people with low or no education to health care services, a lack of awareness regarding their own health, and stimuli to receive education lead to the development of chronic disease and higher morbidity.
- To explore the role of education in population health and identify potential ways to improve health outcomes in communities
- Paper review
- Education as an element of health
- Defining education in the context of health
- According to the definition of the World Health Organization (WHO), health is determined as both the absence of injury or disease and full psychological, physical, and social well-being (“Constitution of WHO: Principles,” n.d.).
- Improving the health and well-being of people is the ultimate goal of social and economic development
- Population education level refers to the main social determinants of health outcomes
- Environment (contextual factors)
- According to several studies, low social status in society begins to negatively affect a person with time, exacerbating health issues and accelerating the aging processes.
- Social, economic, and political factors of education affecting population health
- Educated people lead a healthier lifestyle, live in safer areas, and are less prone to acquire bad habits.
- Evidence of causal association between education and population health
- Mortality. “An estimate of the number of annual deaths attributable to lack of high school education among persons 25–64 years of age in the United States (237,410) exceeds the number of deaths attributed to cigarette smoking among persons 35–64 years of age (163,500)” (Hahn & Truman, 2015, p. 662).
- Stress and depression
- Mental activity. Continuous mental activity suspends the aging process
- Stress. Educated people are likely to handle more successfully such widespread health issues as stress and depression (Kulhánová et al., 2014).
- Chronic diseases. In people with higher education, chronic diseases were met only in 20 out of 100 cases, but people with secondary education experienced chronic illnesses in 44 cases (Clark, Gong, & Kaciroti, 2014).
- Hypertension. The risk blood pressure problems and cardiovascular disease is higher in people with low education (Williams, Priest, & Anderson, 2016).
- Asthma. Since the role of the immune system in the development of asthma is significant, people living in dysfunctional regions is high.
- Brief summary. The mentioned points deteriorate the psychological health of people, which means that it also affects their physical state.
- Health benefits associated with education
- Increased life expectancy. Every year of additional education increases the life expectancy at the age of 35 by one year (Hahn & Truman, 2015).
- Better lifestyle. People with a higher level of education behave differently: they smoke less, drink alcohol in moderate amounts, have weight approaching the ideal, visit doctors more regularly, and generally have better health.
- Good job. People with higher education receive better paid jobs, requiring less physical exertion and giving more pleasure.
- Proper decision-making. People with education manage to achieve positive social and biological changes since education provides more opportunities for solving life problems, better employment, and better social status.
- Information access
- People with a higher educational level have more access to information and, as a result, are the first to learn about scientific innovations and medical recommendations.
- They tend to perceive information faster, realize new trends and change their behavior as they want to maintain their health and continue to enjoy the joys of life such as active leisure or effective relationships with others.
- Academic achievement and health issues
- Better health = better education? Poor health may lead to low education.
- In many cases, education leads to a higher social status and better standard of living compared to those who have no education.
- Human capital theory regards education as an investment in personal wealth as it increases the chances enter the labor market, retain a job, get promotion, and increase remuneration.
- It also reduces the time to perform routine tasks and expands participation in making important decisions, having a positive impact on health.
- Educated people are more prone to make elaborate decisions regarding their future, lifestyle, eating habits, while they are more likely to have a good job and earn more.
- The link between education and health promotes their mutual strengthening. They are closely interrelated in their aspirations to pull people out of poverty and give them the opportunity to fully realize their inner potential.
- Health equity
- A financial aspect of education and health
- Economic forgone. “For a population of 138 million aged 25 years or older with less than a college education, the economic value of the life and health forgone is US$1.02 trillion per year – 7.7% of US gross domestic product” (Hahn & Truman, 2015, p. 662).
- Benefit to government. Considering that graduate students have jobs with higher remuneration and have reduced costs on welfare, the government’s benefit is essential that also affects populations in the form of Medicaid programs.
- Lifestyle issues
- Higher incomes allow buying dietary products and making travel trips for health improvement as well as a more rational attitude towards using the possibilities of the health care system (Bauer, 2014).
- The problem of health inequality is not only related to the availability of more effective medicines or a healthy lifestyle, but also with the provision of universal education and employment to a greater extent.
- Solutions to the identified problem
- Goals to be achieved as a result of new initiatives
- The main goal is to increase the effectiveness of education and scientific development of educational institutions in ensuring public health and social protection of the population
- It is necessary to create conditions for strengthening the health of students in educational institutions.
- Policymaking. One may recommend introducing such policies that would stimulate people with low education or those having no education to attend special courses or receive higher education (Embrett, & Randall, 2014).
- Training. It is important to organize special training to help people in understanding the benefits of education.
- Public health action. The US Department of Health and Human Services may encourage local policymakers to strengthen policies and implement new ones based on the current evidence.
- Job enrichment plans. This option may be implemented by employers for their employees who would receive higher education to motivate them.
- Job enrichment is also beneficial for employers as education means greater productivity of employees at the workplace.
- f. The connection between education and population health needs to be strengthened both at local and federal levels to engage more people in government programs and promote awareness of new policies.
- General overview of the paper
- Project implications
- Further research perspectives
Bauer, G. R. (2014). Incorporating intersectionality theory into population health research methodology: Challenges and the potential to advance health equity. Social Science & Medicine, 110(1), 10-17.
Clark, N. M., Gong, M., & Kaciroti, N. (2014). A model of self-regulation for control of chronic disease. Health Education & Behavior, 41(5), 499-508.
Constitution of WHO: Principles. (n.d.). Web.
Embrett, M. G., & Randall, G. E. (2014). Social determinants of health and health equity policy research: Exploring the use, misuse, and nonuse of policy analysis theory. Social Science & Medicine, 108(1), 147-155.
Hahn, R. A., & Truman, B. I. (2015). Education improves public health and promotes health equity. International Journal of Health Services, 45(4), 657-678.
Hummer, R. A., & Hernandez, E. M. (2013). The effect of educational attainment on adult mortality in the United States. Population Bulletin, 68(1), 1-20.
Kulhánová, I., Hoffmann, R., Judge, K., Looman, C. W., Eikemo, T. A., Bopp, M.,… Wojtyniak, B. (2014). Assessing the potential impact of increased participation in higher education on mortality: Evidence from 21 European populations. Social Science & Medicine, 117(1), 142-149.
Williams, D. R., Priest, N., & Anderson, N. B. (2016). Understanding associations among race, socioeconomic status, and health: Patterns and prospects. Health Psychology, 35(4), 407-415.
Zimmerman, E. B., Woolf, S. H., & Haley, A. (2015). Understanding the relationship between education and health: A review of the evidence and an examination of community perspectives. Web.