Social Determinants of Child Health in Colombia: Can Community Education Moderate the Effect of Family Characteristics?

Ana Maria Osorio, Catalina Bolancé, Nyovane Madise and Katharina Rathmann
University of Barcelona, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, University of Southampton and Humboldt Universität zu Berlin

Contextual effects on child health have been investigated extensively in previous research. However, few studies have considered the interplay between community characteristics and individual-level variables. This study examines the influence of community education and family socioeconomic characteristics on child health (as measured by height and weight-for-age Z-scores), as well as their interactions. We adapted the Commission on Social Determinants of Health (CSDH) framework to the context of child health. Using data from the 2010 Colombian Demographic and Health Survey (DHS), weighted multilevel models are fitted since the data are not self-weighting. The results show a positive impact of the level of education of other women in the community on child health, even after controlling for individual and family socioeconomic characteristics. Different pathways through which community education can substitute for the effect of family characteristics on child nutrition are found. The interaction terms highlight the importance of community education as a moderator of the impact of the mother’s own education and autonomy, on child health. In addition, the results reveal differences between height and weight-for-age indicators in their responsiveness to individual and contextual factors. Our findings suggest that community intervention programmes may have differential effects on child health. Therefore, their identification can contribute to a better targeting of child care policies.

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