Population Health Research Brief Series

There are Costs from Spending Too Much Time on Social Media

Sean Withington and Alexandra Punch

In 2006, Facebook marked the beginning of a new era in social media by making itself universally available. Since then, membership on social media platforms has exploded. Ninety percent of young adults in the U.S. are now on social media, and the majority visit these sites at least once per day.1 Nearly half of all social media users in the U.S. visit sites a minimum of 31 times per week. Social media has benefits, including the ability to share important information, communicate with friends, and expand one’s social circle by being connected to a diverse group of people. Excessive social media use also has costs, including addiction, loneliness, depression, reduced self-esteem, and reduced ability to develop meaningful relationships.1 Continue Reading

People with Developmental Disabilities Have Much more Life to Live

Dalton Stevens

• Adults with any type of development disability (DD) die an average of 23.5 years earlier than adults without developmental disability.
• The early death disadvantage is largest for those with cerebral palsy, other rare developmental disabilities, or co-occurring developmental disabilities, who die up to 34 years earlier than adults without DD.
• Individuals with intellectual disability die an average of 12.7 years earlier than those without DD.
• Adults with DD die at extremely higher rates between ages 18-39 compared to those without DD. 52% of adults with cerebral palsy and other rare DD died between ages 18-39, whereas only 4% of adults without DD died at these ages. Continue Reading

Having a disability increases the likelihood of food insecurity despite federal programs to prevent this hardship

Colleen Heflin, Claire Altman, and Laura Rodriguez


  • Disabilities are associated with food insecurity through multiple pathways.
  • Work-limiting disabilities, cognitive limitations, trouble hearing, and certain physical limitations are related to increased likelihood of food insecurity for prime-age adults (age 19-59).
  • The high prevalence of food insecurity among the disabled population represents a policy failure at the national level.

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Adolescent and Young Adult Mental Health is Better in States that Mandate More School Mental Health Policies

Stephanie Spera and Shannon Monnat

Mental illness affects 1 in 5 adolescents in the U.S., and childhood mental health problems often become more severe in young adulthood. Schools are an essential resource for adolescent mental health because children spend more of their awake hours in school than in any other setting. States vary in their mandates related to school mental health policies.  Continue Reading

‘Walk with a Doc’™ Gets Rural Madison County Moving Together

Mary Kate Lee

Walk with a Doc Issue Brief PictureMadison County is among the most rural areas of Central New York. One limitation of rural places is that there are limited spaces for people to engage in physical activity or exercise. Compared to 93% of residents in New York State, only 75% of Madison County residents have access to parks or recreation facilities.1 As a result, Madison County has a higher rate of physically inactive adults than New York as a whole.1 In addition to these built environment challenges, residents of Madison County also have less access to health care providers compared to other parts of New York State.1 Continue Reading

Childhood Sexual Abuse: The Truth behind the Trauma

Alexandra Punch


Sitting in a jury box listening to two young children discuss their sexual assault, endangerment, and behavioral issues is an incredibly heart-wrenching and challenging task. To listen to them be cross-examined by a defense attorney is even harder. Yet it happens every day in America. Every 11 minutes, Child Protective Services (CPS) substantiates, or finds evidence for, a claim of child sexual abuse.The financial, emotional, and societal toll of child sexual assault on everyday life will never be truly calculated, but we know they have lasting impacts. It is important that parents, guardians, and communities understand who is perpetrating the majority of child sexual assaults, how children and adolescent behavior is shaped by their assaults, and what policies are in place to protect against assault and bring perpetrators to justice. Continue Reading

Understanding Opioid Users’ Views on Fentanyl could help Reduce Overdoses

Kate McLean, Shannon Monnat, Khary Rigg, Glenn Sterner, & Ashton Verdery



  • Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is a widespread additive to heroin in the U.S. Rust Belt.
  • Most people who use heroin want to avoid fentanyl, due to its association with overdose.
  • Some people who use prefer fentanyl due to its shorter, stronger high, even when snorted.
  • The ability to identify fentanyl in heroin through self-test strips might help all users reduce undesirable effects and overdose risk

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How Well do We Understand Mental Health?

Ashley Van Slyke


Roughly 9.8 million adults in the United States, representing 4% of the U.S. adult population, have a diagnosis of a serious mental illness (SMI).1 An additional 16.1 million (6.7%) have a diagnosed depressive disorder.2 Millions more know people with serious mental illness or depression. Poor mental health is a massive and growing public health crisis. Its looming presence begs the question: Do we, as a society, truly understand different mental illnesses? In short, the answer is no, and we need community-based programs to help improve society’s mental health literacy. Continue Reading

There are Multiple and Geographically Distinct Opioid Crises in the U.S.

Shannon M. Monnat



  • There are at least four distinct opioid overdose crises in the U.S. – prescription opioids, heroin, synthetic opioids, and multiple combinations of opioids.
  • U.S. counties vary both in the magnitude of their fatal opioid overdose rates overall and in their rates of fatal overdose from specific types of opioids.
  • Fatal overdose rates overall are higher in places with more economic disadvantage, more blue-collar and service employment, and higher opioid prescribing rates.
  • High rates of prescription opioid overdoses and overdoses involving both prescription and synthetic opioids cluster in more rural and economically disadvantaged counties with the highest rates of opioid prescribing.
  • High heroin and “syndemic” opioid overdose counties (counties with high overdose rates across all major opioid types) are more urban, have larger concentrations of professional workers, and are less economically disadvantaged

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