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Journal round-up: Social Science & Medicine 275

Our authors provide regular round-ups of the latest peer-reviewed journals. We cover all issues of major health economics journals as well as other notable releases. Visit our journal round-up log to see past editions organised by publication title. If you’d like to write a journal round-up, get in touch.

A journey into April’s edition of a journal that aims to provide an international and interdisciplinary forum for the dissemination of social science research on health… not a cost-effectiveness analysis in sight!

Of the 15 original research articles comprising the body of this edition, an analysis of the effect of parental unemployment upon childhood health gets the first mention from me. Exploiting within-variation in household-level panel data from three waves of the Growing Up in Ireland study, the author identifies a positive association between either parent becoming unemployed and the infant child being obese or overweight. From the quality of the data to the robustness of the analysis to consideration of where the research sits, what it adds, and its implications for policy, I found this to be a notably thoughtful and valuable piece.

Another study with an eye to the importance of early childhood nutrition uses long-term follow-up data from a randomised controlled trial of nutritional supplements across two similar Guatemalan villages to investigate the importance of enhanced nutrition and psychosocial stimulation in early childhood for cognitive functioning and psychological well-being in adulthood. Employing structural equation modelling, the authors find limited evidence of expected associations. And while we’re covering all things familial, two more studies to note. First, an investigation into marital loss and the risk of dementia asks, “do race and gender matter?” Not as much as household finances, it seems. Second, a study examining the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic upon the mental health of male and female caregivers. From online, multinational, self-report survey data of 348 female and 148 male caregivers, the authors find a disproportionate burden of stress and mental health difficulties falling upon female caregivers. Yet, I’m left wishing the authors had provided more details of the sample, including a fuller explanation of how the study defined ‘caregiver’.

For categorisation-by-COVID-relevance fans, this issue includes two further pandemic-themed articles; an analysis of economic hardship and health during the pandemic, using longitudinal data from Canada, and a difference-in-differences analysis of Dutch longitudinal panel data exploiting the timing of the last round of data collection (March 2020) to test whether lockdown measures in the Netherlands increased trust in government and science.

That’s less than half of this issue’s research articles covered and, from a thoughtful piece on the application of principles of palliative care to cancer survivorship to an introduction of a dataset of 60+ years of trade challenges to national health regulations at the World Trade Organization, the rest of the issue holds a wide variety of research, true to the journal’s international and interdisciplinary principles.


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