Governments around the world create social policies that aim to improve their communities’ health, economic well-being, schooling and more. Policies not directly aimed at improving health may still have unintended effects (positive or negative) on the health of a population.
Dr. Tia Palermo, Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health, examines the impact these policies have on population health. A former researcher at the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti in Florence, Italy, Dr. Palermo led research on linkages between social policy and child and adolescent well-being in sub-Saharan Africa and was actively engaged in facilitating evidence uptake in government decision-making.
Currently, as co-Principal Investigator for studies in Tanzania and Ethiopia, Dr. Palermo studies how government social protection programs that aim to combat poverty and are linked with other services and complementary interventions, affect the health and well-being of children, adolescents, and their families. In a complementary project that aimed to understand one pathway of impact (stress reduction) that links social protection programs to improved health, Dr. Palermo and colleagues conducted a qualitative study that examined key stressors faced by adolescents and youth in rural sub-Saharan African settings. Then, they created a new measure of self-perceived stress - the Enhanced Life Distress Inventory (ELDI) - and tested the performance and psychometric properties of this measure in population-based surveys. Currently, Dr. Palermo and colleagues are studying whether cash transfers, one form of social protection programming, reduce stress as measured by the ELDI using quantitative data from four large-scale surveys in three countries.
Dr. Palermo is a member of the following Research Consortia: The Transfer Project, SPARKS Network for Health and Social Protection, and The Cash Transfer and Intimate Partner Violence Research Collaborative.