On Sunday, May 5th, I again had the pleasure of chatting with Sister Andrena on Touch 106.1FM as part of our ongoing monthly health segment that is being supported by Sister Yvette as part of the Confirmation Hour. This time, we discussed the impact finances have on our health. Instead of just focusing on money, we began our discussion by exploring the concept of socioeconomic status (SES) and its impact on health.
A report from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine defines SES as “a measure of an individual’s or family’s economic and social position based on education, income and occupation.” (reference) When evaluating health effects, these three basic components can be explored independently, or lumped together as a single measure of SES that typically is separated into three categories, high SES, middle SES, and low SES. Studies have shown that low SES is directly correlated to poorer health outcomes. The Feinberg report goes even further, and concludes that SES “is such a strong predictor of health that an assessment of the health of [a city] would be incomplete without consideration of the socioeconomic status of its residents.”
So, today I will comment on the first component of SES:
Sister Andrena and I briefly discussed the lack of literacy in our nation. The 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) is the nation's most comprehensive measure of English literacy among American adults age 16 and older. More information about the assessment can be found here.
In fact, Boston has a functional illiteracy rate of 24% - Detroit 50%. These are people who lack the skills to manage daily living or job related tasks that require reading skills beyond a basic level!! If this doesn’t impact health, I am not sure what would. Medicine is frequently about paperwork – intake forms, prescriptions. How do patients who are functionally illiterate handle this? For the first time, the NAAL included a Health Literacy Assessment as part of their standard literacy assessment. A snapshot is found below.
~ One drop of knowledge can ripple through an entire community