PBS Series Explores Health Disparities, Effect of Socioeconomic Status on HealthPBS stations on Thursday will begin airing a four-part documentary series titled, "Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?" USA Today reports (Painter, USA Today, 3/24).
According to the Native American Times, the series "explores the causes and seeks solutions to America's health crisis by crisscrossing the country, exploring how the social conditions in which Americans are born, live and work profoundly affect health and longevity" (Gray, Native American Times, 3/22). The series also highlights the results of studies that examined how socioeconomic status and other factors can affect health, USA Today reports (USA Today, 3/24).
The series will feature such issues as:
- Hispanic immigrants' health status;
- How racial discrimination can lead to chronic stress that affects blacks;
- How job insecurity has affected residents of western Michigan;
- Type 2 diabetes prevalence among two American Indian communities in Arizona;
- How college-educated black women are more likely to give birth prematurely than white women who do not finish high school; and
- A gap in life expectancy between wealthy and working-class neighborhoods in Louisville, Ky.
Christine Herbes-Sommers, one of the filmmakers, said the series aims to demonstrate that "what is written into our bodies is a lifetime of experiences and social conditions. It's not about genes." She added that a theme of the series is that not everyone has access to resources that would help them sustain or improve their health.
She said, "It's easy to say, 'That person doesn't have to eat that way,' or 'They should exercise more.' But if you live in a dangerous neighborhood, or in the suburbs where there are no sidewalks, your choices are constrained" (Blumenstock, Washington Post, 3/23).
More information about the series is available online. This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.