Correlations Between Education and Health Disparities

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” ~Maimonides

Society has stressed education for countless generations. Children are instilled with the perception that with an education, their life goals are more attainable. What is not commonly known, is how education impacts health.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s research shows that college graduates can expect to live at least five years longer than individuals who have not finished high school by reducing many health risks including diabetes, heart disease, smoking, obesity, etc. Furthermore, a parent’s education drastically affects their children: the more years of education a mother receives, the more likely her infant is to survive.  The infant mortality rate for women who have not graduated high school is almost double that of women who do have a college education. The children of educated parents are also more likely to do well in school than the children of high school graduate parents. 

Education impacts the health of individuals in multiple ways, income being one of many. With an education, better careers and jobs are available which lead to a higher income along with better access to health insurance and medications. Not only that, but a higher income also allows individuals access to better nutrition and safer homes, lowering money-related stress.

Consider the following study entitled,  "Socioeconomic Status and Age Variations in Health-Related Quality of Life: Results From the National Health Measurement Study."

The study uses four different measures of Health Related Quality of Life in order to assess the impact of education and income on the overall health of individuals. The four measures use a survey-type method, involving questions related to physical health (normal function, mobility, self-care, pain, vitality, disability, mortality, speech, hearing etc) , social health (social function), cognitive health (rationality, cognitive ability) and mental health (emotions, depression, anxiety) in order to assess an individual’s score on a scale of 1-5. All four measures reported the same results with little variability. The SRH (Self-Rated Health) measure has been included in a number of large national surveys. It is based on the following question: “In general, would you say your health is: excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor?” Despite the simplicity, the measure is usually a robust predictor of later health outcomes. 

Education and Health Related Quality of Life:

The study shows that Education and Income directly impact the Health Related Quality of Life of individuals. We can draw two simple conclusions: (1) the more educated an individual is, better the overall health, and (2) the higher the income of an individual, the better the overall health across all age groups. 

Education impacts the health of individuals in more ways than one. Income is an intervening variable that, among others, may explain the relationship between higher education and better health. Through MedEq, we act to diminish the educational disparities in our city as we explore these relationships between education and health.

It is a cycle: more education leads to better health, better health leads to more education. 


SOURCES:                

Robert, S.A., Cherepanov, D., Palta, M., Dunham, N.C., Feeny, D., & Fryback, D.G. (2009). Socioeconomic status and age variations in health-related quality of life: Results from the national health measurement study. Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 64B(3), 378–389, doi:10.1093/geronb/gbp012, Advance Access publication on March 23, 2009

"Better Education=Healthier Lives." RWJF. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.rwjf.org/en/culture-of-health/2012/08/better_educationhea.html>.

"Western Carolina University." - Professional Development for Teachers. N.p., n.d. <http://www.wcu.edu/academics/edoutreach/conted/profdev/professional-development-for-teachers.asp>.

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