Healthy lifestyles and the education gap

Attention, community pharmacists! How well do you know your patients?

A new study from a Canadian sociologist sheds new light on the health habits of middle-aged Americans, and asserts that those with higher educational levels are significantly more likely to pursue healthier behaviors than their less-educated peers.

The study, authored by Rachel Margolis, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Western Ontario, and published in the September issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, shows that college-educated Americans between the ages of 50 years and 75 years are much less likely to smoke and are more likely to stay physically active than those with a high school education or less. As reported last week by Drug Store News, Margolis cited “very large differences by education in smoking and physical activity trajectories in middle age.”

So, as a pharmacist, you might consider putting special emphasis on your less-educated patients when providing disease-state counseling, medication therapy management and other clinical services and interventions. And if your store or company provides smoking cessation classes, you might consider giving those patients an extra boost to encourage them to sign up!

That said, I’m curious whether pharmacists in different parts of the United States can fully corroborate Margolis’ findings. If you practice in a community setting, do you find marked differences in healthy behaviors, lifestyles, exercise levels or eating habits among your patients depending on their level of education or other socio-economic markers? Click on the comment button to share your thoughts; as always, your feedback is most welcome.

 

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