Assessing the role of social determinants of health in health disparities: The need for data on work

Sharon R. Silver, Marie H. Sweeney, Wayne T. Sanderson, Regina Pana-Cryan, Andrea L. Steege, Brian Quay, Tania Carreón, Michael A. Flynn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Work is a key social determinant of health. Without the collection of work-related information in public health data systems, the role of social determinants in creating and reinforcing health disparities cannot be fully assessed. Methods: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maintains or supports a number of public health surveillance and health monitoring systems, including surveys, case-based disease and exposure systems, vital status records, and administrative data systems. We evaluated a convenience sample of these systems for inclusion of information in three work-related domains: employment status, industry and occupation, and working conditions. Results: While 12 of 39 data systems were identified as collecting work-related data, this information was often minimal (e.g., only employment status), restricted to a subset of respondents, or only gathered periodically. Information on working conditions was particularly sparse. Conclusion: Historically, the limited and inconsistent collection of work-related information in public health data systems has hindered understanding of the role work plays in health disparities. Current CDC data modernization efforts present opportunities to enhance the identification and mitigation of health disparities by prioritizing inclusion of an expanded set of work-related data elements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-142
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Journal of Industrial Medicine
Volume67
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Wiley Periodicals LLC.

Keywords

  • data
  • health disparities
  • social determinant of health
  • work

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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