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Concept: Poverty

534

Environmental problems have contributed to numerous collapses of civilizations in the past. Now, for the first time, a global collapse appears likely. Overpopulation, overconsumption by the rich and poor choices of technologies are major drivers; dramatic cultural change provides the main hope of averting calamity.

Concepts: Poverty, Culture, Peak oil, Society, Globalization, Civilization, Sociocultural evolution, John Zerzan

253

Vacant and blighted urban land is a widespread and potentially risky environmental condition encountered by millions of people on a daily basis. About 15% of the land in US cities is deemed vacant or abandoned, an area roughly the size of Switzerland. In a citywide cluster randomized controlled trial, we investigated the effects of standardized, reproducible interventions that restore vacant land on the commission of violence, crime, and the perceptions of fear and safety. Quantitative and ethnographic analyses were included in a mixed-methods approach to more fully test and explicate our findings. A total of 541 randomly sampled vacant lots were randomly assigned into treatment and control study arms; outcomes from police and 445 randomly sampled participants were analyzed over a 38-month study period. Participants living near treated vacant lots reported significantly reduced perceptions of crime (-36.8%,P< 0.05), vandalism (-39.3%,P< 0.05), and safety concerns when going outside their homes (-57.8%,P< 0.05), as well as significantly increased use of outside spaces for relaxing and socializing (75.7%,P< 0.01). Significant reductions in crime overall (-13.3%,P< 0.01), gun violence (-29.1%,P< 0.001), burglary (-21.9%,P< 0.001), and nuisances (-30.3%,P< 0.05) were also found after the treatment of vacant lots in neighborhoods below the poverty line. Blighted and vacant urban land affects people's perceptions of safety, and their actual, physical safety. Restoration of this land can be an effective and scalable infrastructure intervention for gun violence, crime, and fear in urban neighborhoods.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Poverty, Randomized controlled trial, Effectiveness, Sociology, Pharmaceutical industry, Efficacy, Crime

178

Improving maternal and newborn health in low-income settings requires both health service and community action. Previous community initiatives have been predominantly rural, but India is urbanizing. While working to improve health service quality, we tested an intervention in which urban slum-dweller women’s groups worked to improve local perinatal health.

Concepts: Health care, Infant, Epidemiology, Clinical trial, Poverty, Randomized controlled trial, Breastfeeding, Slum

170

Prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is increasing globally, with the greatest projected increases in low-income and middle-income countries. We sought to quantify the proportion of Cochrane evidence relating to NCDs derived from such countries.

Concepts: Disease, Poverty, Evidence-based medicine, Cochrane Collaboration, Cochrane Library, Randomized controlled trial, World Bank, Globalization

168

BACKGROUND: While homelessness among youth is a serious problem, there is little information about evidence-based interventions for homeless youth. In cooperation with professionals and youths, Wolf (2012) developed Houvast (Dutch for ‘grip’): a strengths based method grounded in scientific and practice evidence. The main aim of Houvast is to improve the quality of life of homeless youths by focusing on their strengths, thus stimulating their capacity for autonomy and self-reliance.Method/Design: The effectiveness and fidelity of Houvast will be tested in ten Dutch services for homeless youth which are randomly allocated to an intervention group (n = 5), or a control group which provides care as usual (n = 5). Measurements of both objective and subjective quality of life and secondary outcomes (mental and physical health, substance use, coping, resilience, psychological needs, care needs, working relationship with the professional and attainment of personal goals) will be conducted among homeless youths (n = 251). Youths in both groups will be interviewed by means of a structured interview at baseline, at time of ending care or after having received care for six months (T1) and at nine months after baseline (T2). Model fidelity will be tested around T1. DISCUSSION: This study is unique as it includes a large number of homeless youths who are followed for a period of nine months, and because it focuses on a strengths based approach. If the Houvast method proves to be effective in improving quality of life it will be the first evidence-based intervention for homeless youth.Trail registration: Netherlands Trail Register (NTR): NTR3254.

Concepts: Scientific method, Poverty, Intervention, Youth, Interview, Homelessness, Street children, Maslow's hierarchy of needs

167

Cachexia is a hallmark of pulmonary tuberculosis and is associated with poor prognosis. A better understanding of the mechanisms behind such weight loss could reveal targets for therapeutic intervention. The role of appetite-regulatory hormones in tuberculosis is unknown.

Concepts: HIV, AIDS, Pulmonology, Lung, Poverty, Tuberculosis, Weight loss, Appetite

153

Tuberculosis prevalence is generally low in industrialized countries, but many cities now operate surveillance programmes to actively screen for tuberculosis in known risk groups including homeless people. While several studies have reported on individual screening programmes, this study is the first known systematic review specifically looking at chest x-ray screening programmes for tuberculosis in homeless populations.

Concepts: Poverty, Industrial Revolution, Tuberculosis, Cultural studies, Homelessness, Homelessness in the United States, Flo Rida

147

Adolescent pregnancy remains a public health concern, with diverse serious consequences, including increased health risk for mother and child, lost opportunities for personal development, social exclusion, and low socioeconomic attainments. Especially in Africa, teenage pregnancy rates are high. It is important to find out how girls without pregnancy experience differ in their contraceptive decision-making processes as compared with their previously studied peers with pregnancy experience to address the high rate of teenage pregnancies.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Poverty, Educational psychology, Abortion, Adolescence, Sex education, Teenage pregnancy, Pregnancy over age 50

147

The poor often behave in less capable ways, which can further perpetuate poverty. We hypothesize that poverty directly impedes cognitive function and present two studies that test this hypothesis. First, we experimentally induced thoughts about finances and found that this reduces cognitive performance among poor but not in well-off participants. Second, we examined the cognitive function of farmers over the planting cycle. We found that the same farmer shows diminished cognitive performance before harvest, when poor, as compared with after harvest, when rich. This cannot be explained by differences in time available, nutrition, or work effort. Nor can it be explained with stress: Although farmers do show more stress before harvest, that does not account for diminished cognitive performance. Instead, it appears that poverty itself reduces cognitive capacity. We suggest that this is because poverty-related concerns consume mental resources, leaving less for other tasks. These data provide a previously unexamined perspective and help explain a spectrum of behaviors among the poor. We discuss some implications for poverty policy.

Concepts: Scientific method, Psychology, Poverty, Cognition, Mind, Hypothesis, Theory, Farmer

134

Annual influenza vaccine is recommended for all persons aged ≥6 months in the United States, with recognition that some persons are at risk for more severe disease (1). However, there might be previously unrecognized demographic groups that also experience higher rates of serious influenza-related disease that could benefit from enhanced vaccination efforts. Socioeconomic status (SES) measures that are area-based can be used to define demographic groups when individual SES data are not available (2). Previous surveillance data analyses in limited geographic areas indicated that influenza-related hospitalization incidence was higher for persons residing in census tracts that included a higher percentage of persons living below the federal poverty level (3-5). To determine whether this association occurs elsewhere, influenza hospitalization data collected in 14 FluSurv-NET sites covering 27 million persons during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 influenza seasons were analyzed. The age-adjusted incidence of influenza-related hospitalizations per 100,000 person-years in high poverty (≥20% of persons living below the federal poverty level) census tracts was 21.5 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 20.7-22.4), nearly twice the incidence in low poverty (<5% of persons living below the federal poverty level) census tracts (10.9, 95% CI: 10.3-11.4). This relationship was observed in each surveillance site, among children and adults, and across racial/ethnic groups. These findings suggest that persons living in poorer census tracts should be targeted for enhanced influenza vaccination outreach and clinicians serving these persons should be made aware of current recommendations for use of antiviral agents to treat influenza (6).

Concepts: Vaccine, Vaccination, Poverty, Demography, United States, Influenza, Poverty in the United States, Influenza vaccine