Department of Epidemiology

Scientific achievements

In the course of prospective epidemiological studies an index of risk in the development of chronic obstructive lung disease has been worked out which may be implemented in prevention programs. Using mathematical logistic modeling, evidence of the hazardous effect of urban air pollution in the etiology of lung cancer and dynamic changes of pathological disorders within the respiratory tract related to environmental factors have been evaluated. Besides multivariate analysis showed that allergy and low birth weight increased substantially the incidence of acute respiratory episodes in children. Based on lengthy population studies of nutritional factors harmful dietary patterns have been identified as well as the detrimental effect of alcohol consumption in the occurrence of stomach cancer were described. Studies on association between active cigarette smoking status of mothers or air pollution and placental CYP1A1 in RNA levels have been conducted in collaboration with Columbia University N.Y. The effect of this exposure on newborn babies and young children has been assessed as well.

The recent study results support the view that "in utero" exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon compounds (PAHs and passive smoking greatly increase the incidence of respiratory infections in infants. Higher utilization rates of doctor consultation in infants attributable to prenatal exposure demand the revision of public health policy, which should be focused also on prevention practices. The newborns of mothers exposed also to higher level of fine particles over pregnancy showed lower birth weight by 128.3 g, shorter length at birth by 0.9 cm and reduction in head circumference by 0.3 cm. The research performed has shown that adults exposed to higher level of PAH compounds increased the risk of asthma by factor 5.6 after accounting for potential confounders such as allergic diseases and exposure to ETS. In another study it was discovered that the risk of delayed neurocognitive development of infants increased more than threefold if the cord blood mercury level was above the value of 0.8 µg/L. compared with those children who had the mercury below that level.

Current topics

  • Biomarkers of exposure over the pregnancy period and their potential application in assessing the effects of the environmental exposure on the newborns
  • Impact of indoor and outdoor air pollution on the occurrence of asthma and other respiratory health outcomes in young children
  • Chronic non-specific respiratory diseases in various groups of Cracow inhabitants and in occupational groups related to outdoor and indoor air quality
  • The importance of alcohol consumption and dietary habits in the etiology of gastrointestinal cancer
  • The role of air quality on the mortality patterns among inhabitants of Cracow
  • Interaction between nutrition and genetic susceptibility in the etiology of colon cancer

Department of Medical Sociology

Scientific achievements

Social determinants of health-related quality of life at the beginning of older age have been established in the cohort of 65 years old Polish women. Applying job stress models of Karasek and Siegrist relationships between previous work activity and different dimensions of subjective health and life satisfaction at the beginning of older age were explored. High physical job demands combined with low job control diminished job satisfaction in women. High physical job demand/efforts combined with low job control/reward decreased self-rated health scores. High psychological job demands combined with low job control diminished the risk of chronic diseases in women. High physical job demand/efforts combined with low job control/rewards increased the functional independence in both men and women.

Changes in self-rated health in community – dwelling elderly during the 12 year interval observation showed significant role of self-evaluation of health status at the beginning of observation: self-rated health less markedly decreased in men who continued professional activity during the retirement. During this time period significantly diminished scores were found in women with higher level of functional activity at the beginning of observation and greater independence in performing daily activities after 12 years.

Cross-sectional study of the elderly aged 65-85 revealed, that socio-economic inequalities in health (functional status, self-rated health) and quality of life persist into old age and are unfavorable for lower social strata.

Methodological studies confirmed acceptable value of Social Support List – Interactions Scale for evaluation of social support received by elderly people in Polish conditions as well as appropriate validity and reliability of SF-20 – Short Form General Health Survey 20 scale in the Polish elderly.

Current topics

  • Social determinants of different domains of quality of live in women at the beginning of older age
  • Self-rated health and social well-being as indicators of quality of life in elderly
  • Illness behaviors in cancer patients
  • Sociomedical study on the quality of life in patients after surgical treatment of stomach or colon cancer
  • Illness behaviors in elderly
  • Longitudinal studies on social determinants of mortality patterns among older population of Cracow citizens
  • Cross-cultural adaptations of international instruments measuring different dimensions of quality of life


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