Dr. Mendenhall led a Series of articles on Syndemics published in The Lancet, on March 2, 2017.
A syndemics framework examines the health consequences of identifiable disease interactions and the social, environmental, or economic factors that promote such interaction and worsen disease. This Series introduces the syndemics approach, explains important contrasts with conventional approaches to public health and health-care delivery based on the concept of multimorbidity, and explores how syndemics can be used to tackle health inequities in a comprehensive manner.
In a major contribution to the study of diabetes, this book is the first to analyze the disease through a syndemic framework. An innovative, mixed-methods study, Emily Mendenhall shows how adverse social conditions, such as poverty and oppressive relationships, disproportionately stress certain populations and expose them to disease clusters. She goes beyond epidemiological research that has linked diabetes and depression, revealing how broad structural inequalities play out in the life histories of individuals, families, and communities, and lead to higher rates of mortality and morbidity. This intimate portrait of syndemic suffering is a model study of chronic disease disparity among the poor in high income countries and will be widely read in public health, medical anthropology, and related fields.
"This excellent and readily accessible study provides a compelling account of how social, psychological, and biological factors act synergistically to trigger a diabetes-depression syndemic characterized by a pernicious biosocial feedback loop. This is far more than an account of co-morbidity, which is the consequence of poverty and a difficult life. There are many trajectories leading to both diabetes and depression. One key lesson of the VIDDA Syndemic documented here is that social processes will need to be addressed in order to treat this pathogenic state, not just medicines and health education. This book is an excellent teaching resource for both undergraduate and graduate courses of anthropology and public health."
--Mark Nichter, University of Arizona