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The Status of Evaluation and Research on Effective Interventions Serving Boys and Men of Color

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Watkins • Mitchell • Mouzon • Hawkins




Introduction

Inequities in social determinants of health—the many dimensions that contribute to overall quality of life including education, criminal justice, economic opportunity, and workforce development—are a major driver of health inequities. Among these, educational attainment (or lack thereof) has consistently been demonstrated to have one of the strongest associations with long-term health and quality of life outcomes.


Principal Investigator
  • Ninez A. Ponce, MPP, PhD
Authors
  • Daphne C. Watkins, PhD
  • Jamie Mitchell, PhD
  • Dawne Mouzon, PhD
  • Jaclynn Hawkins, PhD

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Background

The Status of Evaluation and Research on Effective Interventions Serving Boys and Men of Color



Inequities in social determinants of health—the many dimensions that contribute to overall quality of life including education, criminal justice, economic opportunity, and workforce development—are a major driver of health inequities. Among these, educational attainment (or lack thereof) has consistently been demonstrated to have one of the strongest associations with long-term health and quality of life outcomes.1,2 The education achievement gap appears to have the greatest impact on boys and men of color: for black men with fewer than 12 years of education, life expectancy is 14 years shorter than that of white men with a college degree or more.3 However, the understanding of the mechanisms by which education and other social determinants intersect with each other, and health, is still nascent.

Furthermore, both public health and education professionals have raised concerns that poor health among children impedes educational attainment. Boys of color are disproportionately impacted by poor nutrition, obesity, chronic conditions such as asthma, and adverse family events that can increase risk for poor mental health, all of which can negatively impact attendance, learning performance, and eventual educational attainment. By examining health and education in concert, researchers can inform policymakers on interventions with the potential for positive, synergistic effects.

School-based health promotion programs represent a model that engages both the health and education sectors. Schools are a critical platform to tackle childhood health issues largely because children spend so much of their time at school, and thus school is a place that can offer opportunities for interventions.4 Schools are also important because the behaviors and norms embraced by teachers, mentors, and peers influence a child’s attitudes toward healthy living.5 Well-established literature has shown that early life experiences, including those at school, shape a child’s health and development trajectory.6

For healthcare providers, schools also present an opportunity to reach socially disadvantaged children who may otherwise face challenges in accessing health services. For educators, health interventions have the potential to ameliorate children’s health concerns and foster greater focus on learning. This is especially important when attempting to assess health programs serving minority populations; in 2014, more than 40 percent of students of color attended a high-poverty public school.7



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