For more than a year, researchers from Washington University and Saint Louis University worked together to study the health and well-being of African-Americans in St. Louis.
Through the For the Sake of All study, researchers released five briefs. A “St. Louis on the Air” series examined each of those briefs.
“We know that these factors, like education and economic status, do have an impact on health outcomes,” said Jason Purnell, assistant professor in the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University and author of the first brief. “Sometimes a larger impact than even health insurance or medical care.”
There are three paths to dropping out of school: Childhood illnesses, which can lead to poor attendance and low grades. Mental health problems, which can cause behavior problems and lead to poor school performance. Risky behavior, such as drug use and unprotected sex.
“People dealing with mental health challenges are less likely to complete school, and low educational achievement is strongly associated with lower earnings,” said Darrell Hudson, assistant professor at the Brown School at Washington University and the brief’s author.
“What we find in predominately minority communities is that sometimes banks don’t want to lend in those communities,” said Melody Goodman, assistant professor of surgery in Washington University’s public health services division and one of the brief’s authors. “Economic opportunity is not happening in those communities. The park may be the most unsafe place, so when we talk about physical activity, there may not be sidewalks. They’re not likely to have a full-service grocery store. The fact that people of different races live in different places, that’s fine. It’s the fact that the opportunity that exists in those different communities is really different.”
“We found that heart disease is trending in the right direction. St. Louis County, city and state met the goal for heart disease reduction,” said Keith Elder, a Saint Louis University professor and one of the brief’s authors. Data for diabetes death rates showed the least improvement between blacks and whites, though. From 2000 to 2010, the diabetes death rate for blacks in St. Louis County decreased 3 percent. It fell 36 percent for whites.
Final Report: Can For The Sake Of All Change Policy In St. Louis?
The report found that life expectancies across the St. Louis region varied by as much as 18 years, depending on where people lived. Those in north St. Louis live an average of 67 years, while people in Clayton live an average of 85 years.
“St. Louis on the Air” discusses issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh. Follow us on Twitter: @STLonAir.