MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Lauren Gaydosh, PhD
Center for Medicine, Health, and Society
Public Policy Studies
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Several years ago, life expectancy at birth in the United States declined, and this decline has continued every year since. Part of the cause underlying this decline is that midlife mortality – deaths among those 45-54 – has been rising. This increase in midlife mortality has been attributed by some to the “deaths of despair” – a cluster of causes of death including suicide, drug overdose, and alcohol-related disease – and has been most pronounced among middle-aged white adults with a HS degree or less.
In our research, we wanted to better understand the indicators of despair that would be predictive of these causes of death. Things like depression, substance use, and suicidal ideation. And study them in individuals before the period of elevated risk of death – in other words, before they reached middle age. Our goal was to evaluate whether these markers of despair were rising for a younger cohort, and whether this pattern was isolated to white adults with low education.