Culture as an explanation in population health

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


In the last two decades, culture has emerged in population health as a common explanation for health outcomes and disparities. This paper systematically reviews such cultural accounts, focusing on a historical sample of articles from prominent population health journals (19302008, n=100) and a contemporary sample of articles in the American Journal of Public Health (2008, n=95). The review reveals that references to culture rarely (1) specify the precise pathways by which culture influences health or (2) assess the plausibility of these pathways. Despite these weaknesses, a few studies have begun to clarify, measure, and assess how culture can influence health outcomes, and these articles reflect promising new avenues for understanding how cultural factors influence variation in health and well-being.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-247
Number of pages13
JournalAnnals of Human Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Cross-cultural
  • Culture
  • Population health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Physiology
  • Aging
  • Genetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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