Social and Physical Determinants of Circumpolar Health: A Meta-analysis (2009-2010)

David Driscoll, PhD, MPH, MA

Bruce Dotterrer, MS 


Investigations in the growing field of population health research can highlight key social and physical determinants of health disparities and provide metrics for process and outcome evaluation of programs to mitigate those disparities. The ICHS conducted a meta-analysis of secondary literature assessing associations between specific health determinants and outcomes in Alaska and other circumpolar populations and organized these studies by research methodology. Research articles were screened for inclusion if they were reported in English, no earlier than 1999, by a peer-reviewed journal, and represented original and region-specific research. Over 3000 articles were reviewed and 52 studies were identified as providing rigorous assessments of specific social or physical determinants of Arctic population health.


Seven distinct health determinants were identified in the review: addiction, social isolation, environmental exposures, diet/nutrition, global climate change, access to clean water, and access to quality health care. Addiction was related to every leading cause of death in Alaska (except for Alzheimer’s Disease) during the last 10 years. Other determinants such as environmental exposures – associated with four of the top five leading causes of death – and diet/nutrition were also frequently represented in the review. The downstream effects of these determinants, preventable health outcomes such as respiratory diseases and suicide, comprised more than half (52%) of the outcomes identified in the review.


The results of our meta-analysis indicate that a need exists for population health promotion interventions in addiction, diet/nutrition, and environmental exposures.


Download the presentation: Social & Physical Determinants of Alaskan Health: a meta-analysis (pdf, 784 KB) 
David L. Driscoll, PhD, MPH
27th Annual Alaska Health Summit 
December 7th, 2009