108N, Munk School of Global Affairs, 1 Devonshire Place
  • March 22, 2017 from 10:00am to 12:00pm

Speaker: Chantel Ramraj, Lupina Research Associate Fellow, Doctoral Candidate in Epidemiology

Discussant: Professor Ketan Shankardass, Assistant Professor at Wilfrid Laurier University, Associate Scientist at the Centre for Urban Health Solutions in the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s Hospital

Despite the inherent ‘population’ nature of public health, research in this field has overwhelmingly focused on small, high-risk segments of society. As such, the literature has ignored a major theoretical finding, which suggests that the health of societies is a distribution of risk across the whole population. Additionally, societies with more of the population at ‘high-risk’ tend to be those that have a ‘riskier distribution’ for disease. If populations differ in their distribution of risk for disease, public health research must dig deeper into understanding how and why this happens, which requires investigation beyond the individual behavioural, social, and genetic explanations that dominate the field. This talk will be an overview of a dissertation that aims to examine how and why socioeconomic inequalities in ‘high risk’ birth outcomes are reflective of inequalities in the broader risk distributions of these outcomes in Canada and its peer nations. The focus will be on the first chapter of the dissertation, which aims to describe how researchers have conceptualized and measured social inequalities in distributions of health by mapping the literature on socioeconomic inequalities in distributions of birth outcomes, and identifying the gaps in this research as an example.