New York, New York – banning smoking, everywhere

the winds of change are a blowin'

The smoking ban in New York City, originally implemented between 2002 and 2003 (the Smoke Free Air Act) prohibited smoking in indoor workplaces, including restaurants and bars, will now be extended to parks, beaches and Times Square.   Given its low fines and self-enforcement strategies, it will be interesting to see if it has any effect.  If anything, it continues to shift smoking social norms through a mix of shaming and politicking.

These policies, when enforced, work quite well.  Using a quasi-experimental method, a study by Shelley et al (2008) from our systematic review, demonstrated that the Smoke Free Act of 2003 reduced smoking rates in a Chinese population living in New York; while additional efforts targeted at another Chinese population living in a different area of New York  further reduced their smoking rates.


Shelley et al 2008. Effectiveness of tobacco control among Chinese Americans: A comparative analysis of
policy approaches versus community-based programs.  Preventive Medicine, 47:530–536. (Abstract and PDF)

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Filed under Asian, cessation, environment, policy, smoking

Mixed race, mixed feelings

mixed together for a more delicious bite

Recent article from New York Times reporting on students discussing what it means to be mixed-race.  The article presents the now familiar two sides of a continuing exchange: a desire for recognition of a mixed-race identity, and a desire for the erasure of race altogether.

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Filed under African, Asian, Identity, Race, White

Academic resource: your guide to conferences around the world

what appears to be on the conference program is also on the conference menu

Since conferences have been on my mind for the past month or so (our conference is this coming week), I thought I would share a great resource for finding conferences in any field.  Conference Alerts allows you to search for conferences by subject, month and region/country.   This resource goes beyond public healthHIV/AIDS, and palliative care, and includes conferences focusing on plastics, e-learning, and other fascinating topics.  If I could venture outside of my field, I would attend some of the conferences related to transport, in particular this conference dedicated to bridges!


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Conference Alert: World Congress of Epidemiology 7-11th August 2011

IEA World Congress of Epidemiology

The World Congress of Epidemiology will be held this year, 7-11th August, in Edinburgh, Scotland.   Please click here for more details and how to register.  This year’s theme focuses on “Epidemiology for Tomorrow’s World.”

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Filed under Conference, epidemiology

Call for papers: Challenges of changing health behaviours

There’s a call for papers for a special issue of Social Science & Medicine journal on challenges of changing health behaviours if anyone is interested.  Please see their website for submission instructions.  Deadline for submission is 28th February 2011.

From their website:

“Social Science & Medicine is calling for papers for a special issue on Challenges of Changing Health Behaviours to be guest edited by Frances Aboud.

Health behaviour change has become an important issue for health and social scientists as we move from identifying health-endangering behaviours to promoting change in these behaviours.  Of particular importance is the connection between theories, research, and practice on how to change behaviours. Papers are welcome from all of the social science disciplines of the Journal (medical anthropology, health economics, health psychology medical geography, health policy, social epidemiology, medical sociology, as well as interdisciplinary work)

Because of the importance of the Millennium Development Goals, priority will be given to evaluations of interventions or programs that concern the promotion of these goals in developing countries. However, interventions and programs with other goals will also be considered if they are generalizable. The key questions to address in articles are: what works, what does not work, and why? Empirical evaluations are particularly welcome, but theoretical papers and review papers are also of interest.

Empirical papers should:

  • Identify the specific health behaviour and its relation to illness, malnutrition, mortality within the study’s cultural context.
  • Provide information about what the intervention and control groups received and how it was guided by     social science theory.
  • Consider how effectiveness was determined.
  • Consider how qualitative and/or quantitative methods were used to inform the change process.
  • Given the cultural context, consider how specific and how general the findings are.

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Filed under behaviour change, call for papers, Health

Truthiness, or, what I learned from clinical trials

decisions, decisions

I don’t often turn to the New Yorker for my science news, but a copy of this recent article, “The Truth Wears Off” by Jonah Lehrer, left unclaimed on top of my shared work photocopier, caught my attention.  It focuses on the phenomenon of declining effect (of a result/finding) with increasing number of trials and experiments on a particular subject, and what that means for scientific truth if truth can not be replicated, or when it is replicated, less truth-y.

A long, but interesting read, he ends the article by suggesting while science may occupy a dominant position in our society, it is but another paradigm reliant on our human capacity for faith – “just because an idea is true doesn’t mean it can be proved. And just because an idea can be proved doesn’t mean it’s true. When the experiments are done, we still have to choose what to believe.”

For some scholarly articles on the issue, I refer you to John P. A. Ioannidis and his papers

1. Ioannidis JPA, 2005 Why Most Published Research Findings Are False. PLoS Med 2(8): e124. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0020124 (Open Access – free PDF)

2. Ioannidis, JPA.  Why most discovered true associations are inflated. 2008. Epidemiology, 19(5):640-648. doi: 10.1097/EDE.0b013e31818131e7 (Abstract)

3. Dwan K, Altman DG, Arnaiz JA, Bloom J, Chan A-W, et al. 2008 Systematic Review of the Empirical Evidence of Study Publication Bias and Outcome Reporting Bias. PLoS ONE 3(8): e3081. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003081 (Open Access – free PDF)

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Filed under clinical trials, evidence

Migrants face organ donation challenges in the US

Recent article on the New York Times about the difficulty faced by patients awaiting organ donations from a non-US citizen family member.  Sometimes I conflate issues facing migrants and ethnic minorities and speak of them as one group.  This article is certainly a caution against such an oversight.

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Filed under Migrants, Organ donation, USA

Public Health – focus on China

think of the children!

This month’s Public Health journal takes a look at Health Services in China. Definitely worth a look.  A snippet of the table of contents is pasted below with links to papers.

3 You are entitled to access the full text of this document
The challenges of healthcare reforms in China Original Research Article
Pages 6-8
L. Li

4 You are entitled to access the full text of this document
Emerging issues in public health: A perspective on China’s healthcare system Original Research Article
Pages 9-14
R.E. Ling, F. Liu, X.Q. Lu, W. Wang

5 You are entitled to access the full text of this document
Public health services in Shenzhen: a case study Original Research Article
Pages 15-19
D. Zhang, J. Mou, J.Q. Cheng, S.M. Griffiths

6 You are entitled to access the full text of this document
The need for integration in health sciences sets the future direction for public health education Original Research Article
Pages 20-24
L.M. Li, J.L. Tang, J. Lv, Y. Jiang, S.M. Griffiths

7 You are entitled to access the full text of this document
Bridging the gap between education and practice in public health, with particular reference to less-developed provinces in China Original Research Article
Pages 25-29
B. Wei, L. Lu, Z.Y. Zhang, Z.Y. Ma

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Filed under China, Health services, resources

Conference Alert: Ethnicity and Health Dissemination Conference

We are holding our dissemination conference on Wed. 2nd February 2011 in Edinburgh, UK .  It’s going to be very exciting as we’ll be presenting some of the preliminary findings from our 2 year study on how to modify health promotion interventions for ethnic minority populations (South Asian, African and Chinese-origin populations).  We’ll be discussing the programme theory of these health promotion interventions and how adaptations work at each stage, and how these adaptations interact with particular contexts to increase or decrease the effectiveness of tailored interventions.

There is no cost to attend the conference, and we encourage participants to bring and display their posters related to ethnicity and health.

Conference program:[1].pdf

To register:

For more information, please contact me:

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Filed under Conference, Culture, Ethnicity, Scotland, work

New CDC Report on Health Disparities and Inequalities in the US

Suicide rates, for example (Courtesy of New York Times)

The CDC has just released a report on Health Disparities and Inequalities in the US for a wide range of health problems.   For a brief summary of some of the findings, which highlight that health outcomes are very much influenced by one’s ethnic/racial identity, see this NY Times article.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  CDC Health Disparities and Inequalities Report — United States, 2011.  Supplement / Vol. 60, January 14, 2011. (full report)

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Filed under CDC, Ethnicity, HIV/AIDS, obesity, physical activity, Race, Readings, resources, USA