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Open Access Publications from the University of California


The Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at UCSF provides non-biomedical social science and humanities perspectives on health, illness, and disease. The Department, which is comprised of a History of Health Sciences division and a Medical Anthropology division, is also home to the Center for Humanities and Health Sciences which aims to foster intellectual interaction among the UC health science communities and humanities.

Department of Humanities and Social Sciences

There are 171 publications in this collection, published between 1997 and 2021.
Recent Work (168)

The effectiveness of tobacco control policies on vulnerable populations in the USA: a review.

Despite population-wide efforts to reduce tobacco use, low-income populations in the USA have much higher rates of tobacco use compared with the general population. The principal components of tobacco control policies in the USA include cigarette taxes, clean indoor air laws and comprehensive interventions to increase access to tobacco cessation services. In this review, we describe the effectiveness of these policies and interventions in reducing tobacco use among vulnerable populations, focusing on persons with mental health disorders and substance use disorders, persons who have experienced incarceration or homelessness, and low-income tenants of public housing. We discuss the challenges that evolving tobacco and nicotine products pose to tobacco control efforts. We conclude by highlighting the clinical implications of treating tobacco dependence in healthcare settings that serve vulnerable populations.

Trajectories of functional impairment in homeless older adults: Results from the HOPE HOME study.

Difficulty performing activities of daily living ("functional impairment") is common in homeless adults aged 50 and older. However, little is known about the trajectory of these impairments, nor the extent to which these trajectories are similar to those of older adults in the general population. We identified trajectories of functional impairment in homeless adults aged 50 and older, and risk factors for differing trajectories. We conducted a prospective cohort study of 350 homeless adults, aged 50 and older, recruited via population-based sampling in Oakland, California and interviewed at 6-month intervals for up to 3 years. We assessed functional trajectories based on self-reported difficulty performing 5 activities of daily living. We used multivariable multinomial logistic regression to identify baseline risk factors for each trajectory. At baseline, participants' mean age was 58 years (SD, 5.3), 24.1% were women, 80.9% were African American, and 38.6% had difficulty performing 1 or more activities of daily living. We identified 4 distinct functional trajectories: minimal impairment in 136 participants (41.1%); persistent impairment in 81 (25.4%); partial improvement in 74 (23.5%); and decline in 28 (10.0%). Risk factors for persistent impairment included falls in the 6 months before baseline, depressive symptoms, and low physical performance. Although functional impairment improved in some homeless adults, it persisted or worsened in many others. These findings suggest that, similar to older adults in the general population, functional impairment among older homeless persons is not a transient phenomenon, but instead a chronic issue requiring long-term solutions.

Food Insecurity is Longitudinally Associated with Depressive Symptoms Among Homeless and Marginally-Housed Individuals Living with HIV.

Depression and food insecurity are prevalent among people with HIV (PLHIV) and contribute to poor HIV outcomes. Longitudinal data can help clarify the effect of food insecurity on depression among PLHIV in the United States. We assessed the longitudinal association of food insecurity with symptoms of depression using validated measures among participants living with HIV from the Research on Access to Care in the Homeless cohort in San Francisco. We followed 346 participants for a median of 28 months. Over half of participants (55.0 %) were food insecure and 35.8 % had symptoms of depression. In adjusted models, severe food insecurity in the previous period was associated with increased depressive symptom severity (b = 1.22; p < 0.001). The association remained statistically significant in models including participant fixed effects. Severe food insecurity was also longitudinally associated with a binary variable indicating probable depression. Efforts to increase access to and participation in food security safety net programs for PLHIV could improve depression.

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