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COVID-19 Testing Rates are Lower in States with More Black and Poor Residents

Shannon M. Monnat and Kent Jason G. Cheng
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COVID-19 testing is essential to help reduce spread, strategically deliver treatment resources, and devise appropriate policy responses. There is already evidence that U.S. states with more confirmed infections (which can only be determined with testing) are more likely than their peer states with fewer confirmed cases to enact physical distancing protocols, thereby dramatically reducing travel and other mechanisms for virus spread. Resource constraints and different reactions by state governors have resulted in widespread testing variation across states.

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Truly Promoting Diversity on College Campuses Means Supporting Persons in Recovery from Substance Use Disorders

Austin McNeill Brown
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Given high rates of alcohol use and the heavy drinking culture on most college campuses, students living in long-term recovery from substance use disorder are often an invisible population on college campuses nationwide. They are also an institutionally under-served population.

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COVID-19 is a Major Risk to New York State’s Older Veterans

Mariah Brennan Nanni and Mary Helander
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The older adult veteran population is at high risk of contracting the novel coronavirus. Confirmed cases of COVID-19 mirror the population density of older veterans in New York State. Communities with large veterans populations, such as Buffalo, Rochester, Utica, and NYC, have seen rapid increases confirmed cases of coronavirus.

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New York State’s Older Adults in Assisted Living Facilities Need All of Us to Help Them Avoid the Coronavirus

Mary E. Helander and Claire Pendergrast
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There are 50,308 beds in licensed assisted living facilities1 and 114,988 certified nursing home beds (with 90% average occupancy) in New York State.2  Yet, assisted living facilities receive disproportionately less media coverage and policy attention than nursing homes with respect to coronavirus risks and consequences for older adults. Recent deaths in a Florida assisted living facility demonstrate that we need to be paying much more attention to coronavirus risks in these facilities.3 

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Why Coronavirus Could Hit Rural Areas Harder

Shannon Monnat
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As rates of coronavirus (COVID-19) infection and death continue to rise, it is important to consider how rural areas may be differentially affected. On the one hand, rural parts of the U.S. may be comparatively better off than urban places due to lower population density in rural areas. Lower population density reduces opportunities for virus spread. On the other hand, there are several features of rural populations and places that increase their risk of coronavirus-related mortality and other long-term health impacts.

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Staying Safe and Healthy During Coronavirus Response: A Guide for Older Adults

Claire Pendergrast and Mary Helander
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Older adults are at greater risk for several reasons. Our immune function, or our bodies’ ability to fight off new infections like coronavirus, declines with age. In addition, people with chronic diseases have lower immune function, making it harder to ward off infections. Older adults are more likely to have chronic diseases than younger age groups. However, not all older adults experience the same level of risk from coronavirus. Those with more chronic conditions or those in the oldest age groups (in their 80s and 90s) are at greatest risk.2

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Mobilization of the Substance Use Disorder Recovery Community in the time of Coronavirus

Austin McNeill Brown
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Recovery from substance use disorders (SUD) is mostly a relational process defined by improving interdependent relationships, prosocial growth, and quality of life improvements.[1,2] Recovery-affirmative social support – social groups that affirm one’s recovery identity – as well as supportive recovery institutions all play a central role in the recovery journey.[3] Continue Reading

COVID-19: Playing the Long Game for your Mental Health

Mary Kate Lee
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You’re probably tired, burnt out, overwhelmed, or anxious from the constant stream of information (some true and some false) penetrating your social media, virtual conversations, and thoughts. You’ve likely seen the myriad of resources [1-3] to help manage your mental health at this time. Many are all presenting important, relevant, and meaningful information. I encourage you dive into the end notes at the bottom of this article and explore some that we think are really helpful.

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The Spatial Distribution of New York State’s Older Population: Let’s Keep New York’s Older Adults Safe and Healthy during the Coronavirus Pandemic

Mary E. Helander
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The emergent infectious respiratory disease (COVID-19), caused by the novel coronavirus, is of grave concern for all, and especially for older adults.  In addition to following the New York State guidance for protecting yourself and your family, social distancing and avoiding unnecessary contacts can help our communities to protect older adults.

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The Gender Gap in Alcohol Deaths is Much Larger in Some States than Others

Erin Bisesti
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KEY FINDINGS

  • Men have higher alcohol-related death rates than women in every U.S. state.
  • In 2013-17, alcohol-related death rates among working-aged men were highest in New Mexico, Wyoming, and South Dakota. Among women, rates were highest in Alaska, New Mexico, and South Dakota.
  • The gender gap in alcohol-related death rates is highest in states in the western and southern regions of the U.S.

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SNAP Participation is Associated with Reduced Risk of Premature Mortality among U.S. Adults

Colleen Heflin, Samuel Ingram, and James Ziliak
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KEY FINDINGS

  • SNAP participation is associated with a population-wide average decline of 1–2 percentage points in the risk of premature mortality.
  • SNAP participation is associated with a 0.8 percentage point reduction in risk of mortality from “deaths of despair” among adults aged 40 – 64.
  • SNAP policy or implementation changes that further restrict program access or benefits levels could increase premature mortality risk.

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“He’s Not Marrying my Daughter”: Stigma against People in Recovery from Substance Use Disorder

Austin McNeill Brown
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KEY FINDINGS

  • We are generally unwilling to accept people who are recovering from substance use disorders into our social and professional circles.
  • People in recovery, regardless of the label used to describe them, may experience social distancing from others as the intimacy of the relationship increases.
  • In an experimental study, vignettes that described substance use recovery in any form prompted a greater desire for social distance. In contrast, the control group vignette that did not mention substance use or recovery at all elicited no desire for social distance under any context.
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Lerner Center Awarded Grant to Train Healthcare Providers on Plans of Safe Care for Babies born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

The Lerner Center was awarded a grant by the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation for their project: “Implementing and Evaluating the Efficacy of a New Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Plan of Safe Care.” The project aims to increase health provider education surrounding the successful development of Plans of Safe Care (POSC) for mothers with addiction and babies who were exposed to opioids prior to birth. Continue Reading

Lerner Center announces its Request for Proposal for the 2020 Faculty Fellows Program

The Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University is proud to announce its 2020 Lerner Center Faculty Fellows Grant Program. The Faculty Fellows Grant Program intends to fund at least two research/evaluation awards in the areas of population health and/or health promotion. Awards will be funded up to a maximum of $25,000 for 24 months. Click here for more details on how to apply.

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

Stephanie Spera and Shannon Monnat
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KEY FINDINGS

  • States with more mandated mental health policies in public schools have significantly lower adolescent suicide and substance abuse rates.
  • States that mandate school-based mental health centers, professional development in suicide prevention, and social-emotional curriculums have significantly lower adolescent suicide and substance abuse rates.
  • Mandated anti-bullying and family engagement policies are also associated with significantly lower adolescent suicide rates.
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Prenatal Care for Undocumented Immigrants: Implications for Policy, Practice, and Ethics

Rachel Fabi 
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KEY FINDINGS

  • Policies that cover undocumented immigrants during pregnancy sometimes restrict what services can be covered.
  • Health care providers feel like they cannot always treat all of their patients the same due to policy restrictions.
  • Some providers develop workarounds in order to meet their undocumented patients’ needs.

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Results from Lerner Center campus-wide survey featured in SU Faculty and Staff Newsletter

In Spring 2019, Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion developed and disseminated a campus-wide survey on health and wellness goals. The survey explored how health and wellness goals differed among race/ethnicity, sex, and role at Syracuse University (faculty, staff, undergraduate or graduate student). Results were very insightful and will inform future Healthy Monday programming. The article, New Ways to Make Monday a Fresh Start, dives into the survey results and their implications, along with how Healthy Monday programming can be used to spark healthy behaviors across campus.

DeRuyter Monday Mile Team Wins the “Power of Rural Award” for Dedication to Improving Community Health

In celebration of National Rural Health Day, the Madison County Rural Health Council recognizes Madison County residents who have shown a deep passion and commitment to bettering the health and wellness of their community. This year, the Rural Health Council awarded the DeRuyter Monday Mile Team for creating their own  Monday Mile Day and organizing several Monday Mile walks to encourage physical activity and wellness among their community.

The Monday Mile initiative launched in Madison County in 2016 with the creation of the Live Well Committee, comprised of the SU Lerner Center staff, Rural Health Council staff, and various stakeholders in Madison County. Since then, 11 Monday Mile routes have been established, with two currently in the works. The success of the Monday Mile in Madison County has been largely attributed to the enthusiasm and leadership of community residents, like the DeRuyter Monday Mile Team.

For more information on Madison County Monday Miles, check this Lerner Center Issue Brief on the Monday Mile.

We Need to Change the Language we use to Describe Individuals with Substance Use Issues

Austin McNeill Brown
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KEY FINDINGS

  • Terms like “Substance Abuser,” “Alcoholic and “Addict” stigmatize people with substance use issues.
  • Health care professionals, individuals with addictions, individuals in recovery, and the general public all associate negative bias with terms like “addict” and “abuser”.
  • Person-first language such as “person with a substance use disorder” should be used by professionals to describe populations with substance use issues.
  • Health care professional should also use caution with terms like “Relapse” and “Medication Assisted Treatment” as those terms are associated with negative bias.

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Results from the SU Health & Wellness Goal Survey

Shannon Monnat, Mary Kate Lee, Ashley Van Slyke, and Alexandra Punch
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KEY FINDINGS

  • Increasing physical activity is the top-ranked health and wellness goal at SU.
  • Improving diet and nutrition and better managing stress were also highly prioritized.
  • Graduate students were more likely than other groups to report having goals to be kinder to themselves and to improve their mood.
  • Females were more likely than males to report having goals to improve their diet and nutrition and better manage stress.
  • Males were more likely than females to report having goals to improve family relationships, improve relationships with others, and reduce alcohol consumption.

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There are Costs from Spending Too Much Time on Social Media

Sean Withington and Alexandra Punch
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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
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KEY FINDINGS
• 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
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KEY FINDINGS

  • 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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