Assuring Healthy Populations During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Recognizing Women's Contributions in Addressing Syndemic Interactions.

Academic Article


  • A syndemic framework examines disease interactions and the contributions of structural, social, economic, and environmental factors that synergistically interact to contribute to adverse health outcomes. Populations residing in environments with structural susceptibilities experience health disparities and syndemics to a greater extent than their less vulnerable counterparts. The interactions among the social determinants of health (SDoH) and the COVID-19 pandemic have had different results for marginalized populations and have worsened health outcomes for many in this synergistic pandemic. Also, the exposome, the exposure measures for an individual over their lifetime and how those exposures relate to the individual's health, may help to explain why some populations experience more serious cases of COVID-19 compared to other groups. The purpose of this perspective is to: (1) examine the relationship between the syndemic model and the SDoH-exposome; (2) highlight, via specific examples, the contributions of female health professionals to SDoH and the COVID-19 syndemic in response to the Women in Science Research Topic, and (3) propose health policy to address syndemic-exposome interactions to help mitigate or prevent public health challenges. By investing in policies that assure health for all populations, the investments could pay dividends in the form of a less severe syndemic next time since we are starting from a place of health and not disease. Lastly, due to the magnification of underlying societal inequities laid bare during the COVID-19 syndemic, we support the expansion of the disease-focused syndemic model to include societal syndemics, such as systemic racism.
  • Authors

  • Caron, Rosemary M
  • Aytur, Semra
  • Publication Date

  • 2022
  • Published In


  • COVID-19
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Syndemic
  • Women in Science
  • exposome
  • healthy populations
  • social determinants of health
  • syndemic
  • systemic racism
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 856932
  • Volume

  • 10