Exposure to H1N1 Influenced by Social Determinants

Social determinants, including the lack of paid sick leave, contributed to greater exposure risk among various racial/ethnic sub-populations in the U.S. during the H1N1 pandemic, reports a newly published study from the American Journal of Public Health, the monthly journal of the American Public Health Association (APHA).  

Researchers assessed the impact of social determinants of potential exposure to H1N1 unequally distributed by race/ethnicity in the U.S. on incidence of influenza-like illness during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic by surveying a nationally representative sample of 2,079 U.S. adults in January 2010. The completion rate of the survey was 56 percent. Researchers discovered a higher incidence of influenza-like illness related to workplace policies, such as access to paid sick leave, and structural factors, such as number of children and crowding in the household. Even after controlling for income and education, Hispanic ethnicity was related to a greater risk of influenza-like illness attributable to social determinants.

The studys authors strongly suggest, based on their results, Federal mandates for sick leave could have significant health impacts by reducing morbidity from [influenza-like illness], especially in Hispanics.