Papers of the Week: 25/2012

Clearly much water (23 weeks worth, apparently) has passed under the bridge since I last posted on new papers crossing my rss/email desk.  So here are the latest batch:

  1. I am more than a little fascinated by the interplay of race, SES, gender and any other stratifier you can mention in determining infection risks.  And in the field of STIs, I appear not to be the only one.  One angle on this is to look at multiple low-power identities and see how they interact.  For example, here‘s a paper that focuses on the intersection of race/ethnicity and sexual orientation.  Risks definitely rise with multiple minority statuses, but the pattern is non-simple and varies by sex.  It’s never as simple as you’d think.
  2. More on concurrent partnerships in Africa.  A recent study found no association between (self-reported) concurrent partnerships and HIV incidence in rural South Africa and while it is generally accepted that concurrency can theoretically drive an HIV epidemic, empirical evidence remains scant that it does so.  One reason for this may be that while concurrency is risky, its prevalence is low.  This idea is supported by a paper out of Malawi from last year which finds that concurrency is long-lasting when it occurs, but that it occurs infrequently (only in 9% of the sample).  Lots more evidence is needed on this, but these are the right questions to be asking.
  3. This one is only “new to me”. Dynamic models of sexual relationships (and other contact networks, I think that sexual networks are simpler than most) need to be a big new field in ID Epi.  If that’s going to happen we (public health people) are going to need to read lots of network analysis stuff (aside: here‘s an intro from Nick Christakis and collaborator Kirsten P Smith (meta-aside: Smith’s disseration from Penn looks really interesting – international comparisons of STI rates, but I can’t see it published yet).  If you want more theoretical details, James Moody – one of the key people behind the Add Health network work mentioned in the above article – wrote a paper in Social Forces a decade ago, which outlines things nicely.  Beach reading, if I ever made it to the beach.  And enjoyed reading once there.

Next time I’ll try and make these papers a little more up-to-date, but this’ll have to do for now.

Papers of the Week: 01/2012

I’ll keep this brief, since I should be doing far less useful things than posting while on holiday.  But here are three that caught my eye:

1. Qualitative research on sexual relationships is so important in interpretting sexual behaviours.  Especially partner types, as discussed here by Noar and colleagues.  I do note that many examples of this type of study focus on minorities (often by sexual preference or race/ethnicity).  One day I should probably look at the variation in findings by such factors, but I’m lazy when it comes to meta-analyses or just pulling together whole literatures.

2. I often find interesting, but not immediately useful, stuff in the Milbank Quarterly.  The latest edition has a piece using the Earned Income Tax Credit as an IV to measure the impact of income change on health status (both self-reported) at the individual level.  Larrimore finds a correlation in levels between income and health status, but not an effect in changes (i.e. more income to better health).  As the author notes, etiologic period is key here, and these effects are short-run, but it’s always good to be reminded that correlation and causation are very different things.

3.  And finally a quickie – state inequality is associated with a higher familial burden for children with special healthcare needs in the USA.  Not shocking, but another brick in the evidential wall that unequal states are less supportive than others.

NB.  As ever, I haven’t read these papers in detail and cannot vouch for them – they are just the abstracts/titles that caught my eye this week.