A study titled “Health Effects of Dramatic Social Events – Ramifications of the Recent Presidential Election,” was published in the New England Journal of Medicine on June 8, 2017, and it claims Trump’s role in the White House is going to have long-term negative physical and mental health effects on millions of Americans.
Authors David R. Williams and Morgan Medlock, believe Trump’s marginalization of the poor and his attacks on race relations will ultimately affect those groups in negative ways. They point to increased levels of “stress, increased risk for disease, babies born too early, and premature death” as some of the biggest threats faced because of the Trump White House.
“Marginalized groups are likely to be most affected, the authors said. That’s because hostile attitudes toward racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants, and Muslims—which appear to have been brought more to the surface with the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump—have been linked in previous studies with both mental and physical adverse health effects.”
“Elections can matter for the health of children and adults in profound ways that are often unrecognized and unaddressed,” said David R. Williams, Florence Sprague Norman and Laura Smart Norman Professor of Public Health at Harvard Chan School and Professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University, and lead author of the article.
Williams was joined in the study by Morgan Medlock, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital/McLean Hospital.
The researchers examined a small but growing body of evidence on how election campaigns can influence health, and considered the implications for health care providers. They examined existing studies on health impacts in the wake of elected U.S. presidents, including Trump’s recent nomination.
The researchers found that under President Trump there was an uptick in animosity from white Americans and a proliferation of hate websites focused on anti-Obama sentiment. Under Trump, they have found heightened animosity towards ethnic minorities, immigrants, and Muslims.
Among their research they cited the following studies:
• A January 2017 national survey by the American Psychological Association found that a large proportion of U.S. adults—more Democrats than Republicans, and more minorities than non-Hispanic whites—are stressed by the current political environment.
• An August 2016 University of California, Berkeley study of 1,836 U.S. counties found an elevated risk of death from heart disease among both black and white residents of high-prejudice counties, with a stronger effect among blacks than whites.
• A February 2006 University of Chicago study of birth outcomes among women of multiple racial and ethnic groups in California revealed that, in the six months after 9/11, when hostility against Arab Americans was intense, only among Arab American women was there a pattern of increased risk of low-birthweight babies or preterm births, as compared with the preceding six-month period.
Exacerbating Health Challenges In America
The authors warn that deep cuts to social and health services, including the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, are likely to cause widening issues for the poor and marginalized populations in the United States. They focused on studies that displayed increases in infant mortality, chronic disease among adults, and preventable childhood diseases.
The authors went so far as to offer suggestions on how health care providers can deal with the likely fallout that is already started to occur. They suggest that clinicians could directly address emotional distress in patients, suggesting psychotherapy or medication to help deal with Trump’s time in office.
The researchers also suggest that health care organizations take a stronger stance against hate crimes and address discriminatory political rhetoric and incivility.
They would also like to see more health organizations conduct their own studies on the potential negative health effects related to elections and the societal climate in order to develop interventions to reduce their adverse effects on health.
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James Kosur is the former Editor-In-Chief and co-founder of Hill Reporter. He recently served as an editor for Business Insider and various other publications. James and his partners sold Hill Reporter to a new owner in July 2019.