Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Evidence of the fragmentation of public health perpsectives?

Plotinus, a "neoplatonist" believed that the ultimate good was a return to the "one" - the experience of the world in its holistic coherence, without fragmentation into silos and fragments defined by narrow human interests and perspectives.  I was reminded of this when I read two articles in the March, 2012 issue of the American Journal of Public Health - first
Project-Based Housing First for Chronically Homeless Individuals With Alcohol Problems: Within-Subjects Analyses of 2-Year Alcohol Trajectories by Susan E. Collins et al describing how providing housing to people with alcohol addiction problems, without requiring them to be abstinent of alcohol (as many welfare programs require) resulted in decreased alcohol use.  This was an example of ensuring the addiction did not stigmatise the user and further lower their living standards and reinforce their alcohol use.  

In the same issue, Michael Ong et al publish Estimates of Smoking-Related Property Costs in California Multiunit Housing in which they attempt (with a 22% response rate) to estimate the impact of smoking renters on property costs.  They calculate that "implementing statewide complete smoke-free policies may save multiunit housing property owners $18 094 254 annually."   

Contemplative Practice in Public Health Pilot

The evaluation of the 9 week Contemplative Practice in Public Health pilot I conducted with fellow public health practitioners is complete and available here.  What is of interest to me is how much the formal study and evaluation of something that is "alive" loses its freshness when you seek to quantify, categorise, or label it.  The evaluation is very positive overall but it does not really capture the richness of the informal feedback shared in hallways and over lunches.  We will continue the program this year with a slightly longer program of about 12 weeks - participants felt they needed more time on more challenging issues such as interdepence and considering our own mortality (who doesnt!).  Another interesting piece of feedback was that participants wanted to continue the focus on active contemplation of ethical or moral challenges rather than passive meditation - which aligns with the programs theme of "examining reality - not relaxation".