Conference examines social perspectives on health disparities

October 21, 2005

The Chicago Center of Excellence in Health Promotion Economics (CCEHPE) will present a conference on "Respecting Differences/Reducing Disparities: Social Science Perspectives on Health Disparities," on Friday, October 28, 2005, at the University of Chicago's Ida Noyes Hall, 1212 E. 59th Street, Chicago.

"The first step toward eliminating health disparities, whether they are racial, ethnic, socioeconomic or geographic, is to understand what causes them," said David Meltzer, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and of economics at the University of Chicago and director of the Center.

The CCEHPE was founded, with support from the federal Centers for Disease Control, in October 2004 to learn how to improve health promotion policies. Pulling together more than 70 scholars from the biological and social sciences, the Center serves as a focal point for those using the tools of economics and health services research to improve overall health and to reduce the inequalities of health and longevity between different groups.

"Unhealthy lifestyles, such as poor diet, lack of exercise and smoking, have replaced infectious disease and trauma as the leading causes of death in this country," Meltzer said. "Efforts to change those behaviors have met with mixed results in different social and ethnic groups. This conference will look at the impact on health of behaviors associated with different socio-economic, cultural, and ethnic groups--how to assess their effects and how to work with different cultures, often at the neighborhood level, to improve health."

The University of Chicago has become a leading national center for the study of health disparities. Three separate but interconnected federally funded centers based on the campus, concentrate research on such inequalities.

The $3 million CCEHPE is funded by the CDC and directed by Meltzer with a health disparities core led by Sarah Gehlert, associate professor of social service administration. The $5 million Disparities Research for Change program, supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and directed by Marshall Chin, MD, MPH, and the $9.7 million Center for Interdisciplinary Health Disparities Research, focused on the genetic and environmental causes of breast cancer, funded by the National Institutes of Health and directed by Gehlert.

Schedule

8:15 Introduction
8:30 "Problems and Prospects for Health Disparity Research," Thomas LaVeist, PhD, professor, Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Director of the Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions
9:15 "The Latino Paradox: Selection, Artifact, or Social Capital?" Alberto Palloni, PhD, professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin and co-author of Paradox Lost: Explaining the Hispanic Adult Mortality Advantage
10:30 "Neighborhood Social Context and the Latino Paradox," Kathleen Cagney, PhD, assistant professor in the University of Chicago's Department of Health Studies and co-director of the CCEHPE's Health Disparities and Neighborhood Core
11:15 "Social Networks, the Spread of Disease, and Health Disparities," Roland Fryer, PhD, junior fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows and Assistant Professor of Economics at Harvard University
12:00 Keynote address, Eric Whitaker, MD, MPH, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and clinical assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Administration at the University of Illinois at Chicago
1:00 "Churches and Health Resources: Lessons from a Religious District," Omar McRoberts, PhD, associate professor of sociology at the University of Chicago and author of "Streets of Glory: Church and Community in a Black Urban Neighborhood"
2:15 "Are Physicians Less Sensitive to the Preferences of Minority Patients?" David Meltzer, MD, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Medicine, the Department of Economics, and the Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago, and director of the CCHPE and the Center for Health and the Social Sciences.
3:00 "What have we learned about how to reduce disparities?" Panel and audience discussion chairs: Marshall Chin, MD, MPH and Sarah Gehlert, PhD; Panel: Roland Fryer, Kathleen Cagney, Eric Whitaker, David Meltzer, Omar McRoberts, Richard Warnecke (professor of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, Sociology, and Epidemiology/Biostatistics at UIC and director of the Center for Population Health and Health Disparities), Marc Loveless (interim director of Community Service at Rainbow/PUSH Coalition) and Thomas LaVeist

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