How do education levels impact health outcomes? Anna Zajacova – Department of Sociology

My name is Anna Zajacova. I am an
Associate Professor of Sociology at Western University.
I’m a demographer and sociologist interested in population health and
especially health disparities. One of the areas of interests for me has long been
the relationship between educational attainment and health outcomes
especially among American adults and I found really interesting anomalies in
what we tend to think about that relationship between education and
health. And in particular what I found was people who attended college and
didn’t earn a degree actually have more health problems than those who just
finished high school. This is quite important because policymakers spend a
lot of time encouraging young adults to attend college and we need to understand
what happens to the millions that attend and don’t finish. One of the newer
projects that I am particularly excited about has to do with chronic pain,
whether chronic pain levels are increasing or decreasing in the
population and who suffers from chronic pain. And what we are finding is there
are tremendous differences by social status. People with more social status,
meaning more education or higher income, have much less chronic pain whether it’s
low back pain, neck pain, headaches, facial pain, than those who have less of these
resources. So this is really important because it points clinicians and policy
makers towards the more vulnerable groups and and really pinpoints to a
degree those with less resources are vulnerable even to something like
chronic pain which we tend to not think about being related to social factors.

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