Researchers at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health claim in a new article that the 2016 election of Donald Trump could cause an increased risk of disease, premature childbirth and premature death, particularly among “marginalized groups” like Muslims, immigrants and racial minorities.
The article, by Harvard professor David R. Williams and Massachusetts General Hospital/McLean Hospital psychiatrist Morgan Medlock, is being published in the June 8 issue of New England Journal of Medicine.
“Elections can matter for the health of children and adults in profound ways that are often unrecognized and unaddressed,” Williams said in a statement.
The pair didn’t conduct any new research but studied previously released studies.
Following the election of Donald Trump, health professionals said that some individuals who opposed Trump experienced “Post Election Stress Disorder.”
“It’s been crippling,” Clinton voter Wally Pfingsten told CNN. “I feel angry, really, really angry, far more angry than I expected to be.”
Williams and Medlock point to other studies that say hostility toward these groups has “serious health effects.” A January 2017 national survey from the American Psychological Association concluded 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 study from the University of California, Berkeley claimed “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.”
The Harvard authors also cite a February 2006 University of Chicago study claiming that Arab women gave birth to more low-birthweight babies or preterm births after the 9/11 attacks “when hostility against Arab Americans was intense.”
The article argues that cuts to health and social service programs, like the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, will make the health circumstances of the poor and marginalized demographics worse.
The academics also suggest that health care providers can help their patients with such health issues related to Trump through psychotherapy or medication, as well as political advocacy.
“Health care organizations could take a strong stance against hate crimes, discriminatory political rhetoric, and incivility; and the health care community can advocate for further research, or conduct their own, on potential negative health effects related to elections and the societal climate, as well as on identifying effective interventions to reduce their adverse effects on health,” the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health said in a statement.