Press release: Depressive symptoms, suicide ideation and attempts are about twice as common among those who perceive community gender norms as restrictive (Collaborator Kanamori)

A research group led by Mariko Kanamori (Kyoto University Institute for the Future of Human and Society) and Professor Naoki Kondo reported the impact of perceived community gender norms, such as “You are a man/woman, you shouldn’t/shouldn’t do XXX”, on the mental health of older people.

Men who perceived the gender norms of the community they lived in as restrictive were 1.9 times more likely to have depressive symptoms, 2.0 times more likely to have suicidal thoughts and 2.2 times more likely to have attempted suicide. Similarly, women were 1.8 times more likely to have depressive symptoms, 2.1 times more likely to have suicidal thoughts and 2.6 times more likely to have attempted suicide.

The results of this study suggest that those who perceive the atmosphere in their community as being rigid about gender roles and think that it does not allow for diversity are less likely to seek help in times of need, which in turn has a negative impact on their mental health.

The paper was published in International Psychogeriatrics, a leading journal in the field of gerontology and psychology, in the First View online edition on November 6, 2023.

Mariko Kanamori, Andrew Stickley, Kosuke Takemura, Yumiko Kobayashi, Mayumi Oka, Toshiyuki Ojima, Katsunori Kondo, Naoki Kondo. Community gender norms, mental health and suicide ideation and attempts among older Japanese adults: a cross-sectional study. International Psychogeriatrics, 1-11.




The press release is available on Mariko Kanamori’s website.

Press Release: Dental visit rates among older public assistance recipients are more than 20% lower than among those who do not receive public assistance – Barriers other than economic factors to dental visits (Senior Lecturer Kino, Tokyo Medical and Dental University)

A research group led by Senior Lecturer Shiho Kino and Professor Jun Aida of the Department of Health Promotion Dentistry, Graduate School of Medical and Dental Sciences, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, in collaboration with Kyoto University and Osaka Medical and Pharmaceutical University, has found that older public assistance recipients have lower rates of dental visits for treatment and prevention than those not receiving public assistance.

This study suggests that barriers other than economic factors may exist for public assistance recipients to receive dental treatment. The study was published online on August 9, 2023, in the Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology.

Article: Kino S, Ueno K, Nishioka D, Kondo N, Aida J. Prevalence of dental visits in older Japanese adults receiving public assistanceCommunity Dent Oral Epidemiol20230018.

DOI: 10.1111/cdoe.12902

Press Release (link to Tokyo Medical and Dental University HP, click here) * in Japanese

Press Release: 20% of Married Women who had Intended to Conceive Delay Childbearing under the COVID-19 and its Strong Association with Decline in Well-being (Associate Professor Matsushima, University of Tsukuba)

A paper authored by Associate Professor Midori Matsushima of the University of Tsukuba and a research group led by Professor Naoki Kondo has been accepted for publication in BMC Public Health. The paper elucidates the association between the COVID-19 pandemic and the postponement of pregnancy in Japan, and well-being of women who opted to delay childbearing were significantly lower than the women who did not.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, approximately 20% of married women who had initially intended to conceive before the pandemic decided to postpone their pregnancy. Furthermore, the study identified a robust connection between severe psychological distress, loneliness, and suicidal ideation during the pandemic, and the choice to delay pregnancy. These findings indicate concerns about the declining well-being of women during times of crisis and the necessity for society to establish comprehensive mental health support systems.

Article: Matsushima, M., Yamada, H., Kondo, N. et al. Married women’s decision to delay childbearing, and loneliness, severe psychological distress, and suicidal ideation under crisis: online survey data analysis from 2020 to 2021. BMC Public Health 23, 1642 (2023).

DOI:  10.1186/s12889-023-16476-z

Press Release (link to University of Tsukuba HP): p20230920140000.pdf ( *in Japanese

Paper Publication: Eight Countries’ Responses to Health Disparities in the COVID-19 Pandemic: How Did Primary Health Care and Public Health Work Together? (Professor Kondo and Researcher Nishioka)

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, it has been noted that there were significant disparities in access to medical care. The situation varied greatly from country to country. Therefore, primary health care and public health researchers from eight countries gathered to examine each country’s response situation. In particular, they clarified the current state of cooperation between the medical sector (clinics and hospitals) and the public health sector (public health centers and municipal health centers, etc.), which are emphasized in order to mitigate disparities.

As a result, it was confirmed that it is essential to develop a mechanism for cooperation between the two sectors in normal times, and in doing so, it is important to establish a mechanism that should take into account the social determinants of health (e.g., poverty, isolation, etc.) of the target population.

Please click here for detailed information.

Press Release: Development of a new method for tailor-made health support for public assistance recipients (Assistant Professor Ueno)

Health is the cornerstone of life. Protecting the health of individuals receiving welfare support, including public assistance recipients, is especially important. Since 2021, welfare offices in Japan have been obliged to implement health management support programs for public assistance recipients. To provide health and life support efficiently and effectively, we have developed a new tailor-made support method using a marketing technique.

In marketing, the target audience for services is classified according to their characteristics (segmentation) to identify priority individuals and design services tailored to these characteristics. In applying this approach, we used data on public assistance recipients aged ≥65 years to extract five distinct segments via soft clustering, a machine learning technique. We examined the similarities between the extracted segments and public assistance recipients in practice by interviewing caseworkers at welfare offices. The results showed that caseworkers perceived several segments as those in practice. Moreover, we extracted segments with characteristics that caseworkers had not been aware of previously.

Accordingly, we have been developing a tailor-made health support system that presents support plans for each segment.


Article: Ueno, K., Nishioka, D., Saito, J. et al. Identifying meaningful subpopulation segments among older public assistance recipients: a mixed methods study to develop tailor-made health and welfare interventions. Int J Equity Health 22, 146 (2023).



Press Release: Socioeconomic Inequality of Health Behaviors Among Japanese Adolescents increased by 2.5 times after COVID-19 Pandemic (Assistant Professor Kyan)

A study by Assistant Professor KYAN Akira (belonged to Kobe University at the time of research) and his colleagues found for the first time that socioeconomic inequality in achieving recommended physical activity levels among Japanese youth increased while difference in breakfast intake decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to levels before the pandemic.
Specifically, despite no observed differences in physical activity by income in 2019, by 2021, adolescents from families with lower equivalent household incomes were less likely to engage in physical activity.
Research is needed to continue monitoring the impact these phenomena will have on health over the medium to long term.
This article was adapted and edited in part from the Kobe University Graduate School of Human Development and Environment website.
Article information:
Kyan A, Takakura M. Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Socioeconomic Inequality of Health Behavior Among Japanese Adolescents: A 2-Year Repeated Cross-Sectional Survey. J Phys Act Health. 2023 Apr 22:1-9.
Click *here for more information.

Press Release: Children exposed to the pandemic were 4.39 months behind in development at age 5 (Assistant Professor Sato)

Assistant Professor Sato has published a study examining the association between the COVID-19 pandemic and early childhood development in JAMA Pediatrics.
His team showed that cohorts exposed to the pandemic were 4.39 months behind in development at age 5 compared to a cohort that was not during the follow-up. Variations in development were greater during the pandemic than in the pre-pandemic period, regardless of age.

Article: Sato, K., Fukai, T., Fujisawa, K. K., Nakamuro, M. Association Between the COVID-19 Pandemic and Early Childhood Development. JAMA Pediatrics. 2023 July 10.

DOI: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2023.2096.

Press Release: Retirement is associated with reduced heart diseases and physical inactivity – a longitudinal study of over 100,000 people in 35 countries (Assistant Professor Sato)

Many countries have been increasing their state pension age. Nonetheless, there is little consensus on whether retirement affects the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Using a causal inference approach, Mr. Sato and colleagues found a 2.2%-point decrease in the risk of heart disease and a 3.0%-point decrease in physical inactivity among retirees, compared with workers.
Policymakers need to consider the benefits of raising the state pension age and allowing older people to continue working versus the costs from the potential risk of expensive medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease.

This research has been published in International Journal of Epidemiology, one of top journals in the field of epidemiology.

In addtion, the results of this study were covered by various media outlets.

Article: Sato K, Noguchi H, Inoue K, Kawachi I, Kondo N. Retirement and cardiovascular disease: a longitudinal study in 35 countries. Int J Epidemiol. 2023 May 8 Int J Epidemiol. 2023 May 8: dyad058.


Press Release: Proposal of a personalized medicine strategy “High Benefit Approach” in hypertension treatment (Associate Professor: Inoue)

The research group led by Associate Professor Inoue, Professor Susan Athey of Stanford University, and Associate Professor Yusuke Tsugawa of the University of California, Los Angeles, has proposed the potential usefulness of the “high-benefit approach,” a next-generation personalized medicine strategy for hypertension treatment, by applying advanced machine learning models to the treatment of hypertension.

This research established a new concept focusing on individual treatment effects. It demonstrated its usefulness, and it is expected to become a basis for the next generation of personalized medicine applying machine learning.

Kosuke Inoue, Susan Athey, Yusuke Tsugawa (2023). Machine-learning-based high-benefit approach versus conventional high-risk approach in blood pressure management. International Journal of Epidemiology.


Please click on the following link for the press release and more information.
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Press release: Finding an association between weekly walking patterns and mortality risk – Can walking well twice a week keep you healthy? (Associate professor Inoue)

The research group led by Associate Professor Inoue and Associate Professor Yusuke Tsugawa of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), using U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data, has found that achieving 8,000 steps per day, even just one or two days a week has a positive impact on health.

Using accelerometer-measured step count information, the study examined the risk of mortality associated with walking more than 8,000 steps per day for 0, 1-2, and 3-7 days. The Findings, those who walked at least 8,000 degrees, even one or two days per week, showed a reduction in mortality risk almost equal to those who regularly walked three or more days per week.

The results of this study suggest that achieving the target number of steps, even one or two days per week, may have a sufficiently positive impact on health.

Kosuke Inoue, Yusuke Tsugawa, Elizabeth Rose Mayeda, Beate Ritz (2023). Association of Daily Step Patterns With Mortality in US Adults. JAMA Network Open, 6(3):e235174.


Please click on the following link for the press release and more information.

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Kyoto University School of Public Health: