Social determinants conference

Social determinants conference

November 7, 2002

Although extreme poverty has long been associated with reduced lifespan, recent studies have found that the connection between health and wealth goes much farther. People in each socio-economic category have worse health than those above them. This correlation between low status and high risk has been found in human societies throughout history, and even extends to non-human primates and other social animals.

To explore the links between social status, financial resources, education, cultural background and disease risk, researchers from the schools of medicine, law and public policy at the University of Chicago have organized a two-day conference on the "Social Determinants of Health and Disease."

The conference -- to be held at the University of Chicago Law School, 1111 East 60th Street, on Fri. and Sat., Nov. 15, and 16 -- will bring together experts from different disciplines to examine the social as well as biological causes of disease and determinants of health.

The conference is divided into six sessions. These will focus on inequality and health, social connections and health, social and medical factors related to obesity, how sex and gender affect health, the economics of medical innovation, and the role of the legal system in public health and health care. Speakers include distinguished faculty from business, economics, law, medicine, psychology, public health, public policy and sociology from the University of Chicago and several other research institutions.

The conference is the fourth in a series on the Doctor-Patient Relationship. It will recognize the contributions of Alvin Tarlov, MD, former chairman of medicine at the University and an authority on medical education, disease prevention and outcomes research. A former president of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation in California, Tarlov has served as the executive director of the Health Institute at the New England Medical Center in Boston and as chairman of the Mind/Brain/Body Society and Health Initiative at Harvard University. He is currently a Senior Fellow in Health Policy at Rice's James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy.

The conference will be followed on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning by the 14th annual conference for graduates of the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics at the University of Chicago. This annual gathering brings back scholars who trained at the MacLean Center to present recent research. Sessions at the MacLean Center conference will focus on health care in underserved populations, the ethics of palliative care, and international medical ethics -- including the ethical response to terrorist threats.

Social Determinants of Health and Disease

University of Chicago Law School
1111 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637

Friday, November 15th

8:45-9:00 Opening Remarks: Don M. Randel

9:00-10:40 Session 1 Chair: Alvin R. Tarlov

  • Robert W. Fogel, Changes in the Inequality in Health Outcomes During the 20th Century
  • Sir Michael Marmot, The Social Gradient in Health

Commentator: David Meltzer, Inequality, Expectations, and Well-being

11:00-12:40 Session 2 Chair: Susan E. Mayer

  • John T. Cacioppo, Social connectedness and health: Underlying mechanisms
  • Robert J. Sampson, The Neighborhood Context of Well Being

Commentator: Ronald A. Thisted

12:40-2:00 Lunch at the Law School
Remarks: Edward A. Snyder

2:00-3:40 Session 3 Chair: Edward F. Lawlor

  • Arthur H. Rubenstein, Health Implications of Obesity
  • Tomas Philipson, The Growth of Obesity and Its Public Control

Commentator: Virginia Chang, Unequally Obese: Effects of Income Inequality in U.S. Metropolitan Areas

4:00-5:40 Session 4 Chair: James L. Madara

  • Edward O. Laumann, The Social Organization of Sexual Dysfunction and Sexually Transmitted Diseases
  • James House, Understanding Social Factors and Inequalities in Health: 20th Century, Progress and 21st Century Prospects

Commentator: Martha K. McClintock, Gender Differences and Sexual Function and Dysfunction

Saturday, November 16th

8:30-10:10 Session 5 Chair: Richard A. Epstein

  • Samuel Peltzman, Offsetting Behavior and Medical Breakthroughs
  • Robert Topel and Kevin Murphy, Medical Innovations and the Costs of Treatment

Commentator: Mark Siegler

10:25-12:05 Session 6 Chair: Mark Siegler

  • Richard A. Epstein, The Legal Regulation of Health and Disease: Legislative Options, and Constitutional Restraints
  • Mark A. Hall, The Scope and Limits of Public Health Law

Commentator: Philip Hamburger

12:05 Concluding Remarks