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The flu, it’s a social thing

Social determinants such as lack of paid sick leave contributed to higher risk for certain population groups in the U.S. during the H1N1 pandemic, according to an article appearing in the January 2012 issue of American Journal of Public Health.

“The Impact of Workplace Policies and Other Social Factors on Self-Reported Influenza-Like Illness Incidence During the 2009 H1N1 Pandemic” [1]surveyed 2,079 U.S. adults and discovered a higher incidence of influenza-like illness (ILI) related to workplace policies, such as access to paid sick leave. Structural factors, such as number of children and crowding in the household was also related to ILI.

“Even after controlling for income and education, Hispanic ethnicity was related to a greater risk of influenza-like illness attributable to social determinants,” according to the study.

The study concludes:  “Federal mandates for sick leave could have significant health impacts by reducing morbidity from [influenza-like illness], especially in Hispanics.”