Effects of segregation negatively impact health

November 7, 2013 by Brittaney Jewel Bethea

St. Louis remains one of the most segregated cities in the United States, as recently discussed in a BBC documentary highlighting the "Delmar Divide" as an example. It is an issue of pressing concern in a policy brief titled "Segregation: Divided Cities Lead to Differences in Health," explaining how segregation affects access to health-promoting resources and health outcomes such as chronic disease and death.

Written by Melody S. Goodman, PhD, assistant professor of surgery in the Division of Public Health Sciences at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and Keon L. Gilbert, DrPH, assistant professor of and health education in the College for Public Health & Social Justice at Saint Louis University, the brief is the fourth of five from a multidisciplinary study underway called "For the Sake of All: A Report on the Health and Well-Being of African Americans in St. Louis."

"Segregation itself is not the problem," Goodman said. "Segregation is just people of different races living in different communities. The issue with segregation is that it often causes inequality."

Researchers argue racial and economic results in neighborhoods with high poverty. This is associated with fewer banks investing in these areas, lower home values and poor job opportunities.

"The long-term effects of these many challenges mean that people living in neighborhoods with higher poverty have poorer health," Gilbert said.

For example, high-poverty neighborhoods have fewer public services and are more likely to have fast-food chains, liquor stores and convenience stores, as opposed to healthy food grocers. High-poverty neighborhoods also have greater exposure to pollution and violent crime. Research shows that communities with high proportions of racial and ethnic minorities also have less access to doctors. African-American neighborhoods, specifically, often have higher rates of poverty and death from heart disease and all cancers.

"Segregation impacts so many different aspects of life and suggests so many different challenges, which is why no one policy will be the perfect fix," Gilbert said.

A combination of policies was recommended throughout the brief:

  • Invest in ensuring quality neighborhoods that promote with safe streets and sidewalks, access to fresh, high-quality foods and recreational green space for all in St. Louis.
  • Promote development and housing choice without displacement.
  • Promote the benefits of diverse neighborhoods and safeguard fair housing.

"Segregation ultimately affects an entire community, an entire city and an entire state," Gilbert said. "We are under-investing in our own success because of some of the effects of ."

The researchers stress perseverance and partnering with universities, medical centers and major companies to revitalize the city. "We must not only remain vigilant against all forms of discrimination in housing, but also promote and celebrate diversity in our and communities," the brief states.

Explore further: Mental health conditions negatively affect social and economic opportunity

More information: forthesakeofall.files.wordpres … 1/policy-brief-4.pdf

Related Stories

Mental health conditions negatively affect social and economic opportunity

October 18, 2013
A recent study revealed that adults in the City of St. Louis spend an average of 4.5 days a month in poor mental health, with St. Louis County not lagging far behind, at an average of 3 days a month.

Move to less impoverished neighborhoods boosts physical and mental health

September 20, 2012
Moving from a high-poverty to lower-poverty neighborhood spurs long-term gains in the physical and mental health of low-income adults, as well as a substantial increase in their happiness, despite not improving economic self-sufficiency, ...

Recommended for you

Women who sexually abuse children are just as harmful to their victims as male abusers

August 21, 2017
"That she might seduce a helpless child into sexplay is unthinkable, and even if she did so, what harm can be done without a penis?"

Despite benefits, half of parents against later school start times

August 18, 2017
Leading pediatrics and sleep associations agree: Teens shouldn't start school so early.

Doctors exploring how to prescribe income security

August 18, 2017
Physicians at St. Michael's Hospital are studying how full-time income support workers hired by health-care clinics can help vulnerable patients or those living in poverty improve their finances and their health.

Schoolchildren who use e-cigarettes are more likely to try tobacco

August 17, 2017
Vaping - or the use of e-cigarettes - is widely accepted as a safer option for people who are already smoking.

Federal snack program does not yield expected impacts, researchers find

August 17, 2017
A well-intentioned government regulation designed to offer healthier options in school vending machines has failed to instill better snacking habits in a sample of schools in Appalachian Virginia, according to a study by ...

In a nutshell: Walnuts activate brain region involved in appetite control

August 17, 2017
Packed with nutrients linked to better health, walnuts are also thought to discourage overeating by promoting feelings of fullness. Now, in a new brain imaging study, researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.