A psychologist teaching public health in the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University at St. Louis, Jason Q. Purnell outlined his research project, dubbed For the Sake of All (FSA), as he spoke on the topic “Translating Evidence Into Action for Community Health.”
FSA, begun in 2013 and still producing results, looks at social disparities and the social determinants of health: the conditions in which people are born, live, work and play. Our culture and political decisions also affect the health of communities, he pointed out.
Purnell displayed an FSA-created map of life expectancy at birth by ZIP code in St. Louis County, which contains the city of St. Louis and 89 other municipalities. The county includes Ferguson, Missouri, site of the 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown, which began a series of nationwide protests that centered on racial inequalities. Purnell compared the residents of ZIP code 63106 in the northern part of the county with residents of 63105, near Washington University. The two places are separated by less than 10 miles, but residents of the area surrounding the university have 18 more years of life expectancy than the poorer area to its north.
He calls this “the geography of inequality."