Publications

2015
Belluz, J. & Hoffman, S.J., 2015. What All Patients can Learn from Angelina Jolie. Vox. Article
Hoffman, S.J. & Røttingen, J.-A., 2015. Assessing the Expected Impact of Global Health Treaties: Evidence from 90 Quantitative Evaluations. American Journal of Public Health , 105 (1) , pp. 26-40. PDFAbstract

We assessed what impact can be expected from global health treaties on the basis of 90 quantitative evaluations of existing treaties on trade, finance, human rights, conflict, and the environment.

It appears treaties consistently succeed in shaping economic matters and consistently fail in achieving social progress. There are at least 3 differences between these domains that point to design characteristics that new global health treaties can incorporate to achieve positive impact: (1) incentives for those with power to act on them; (2) institutions designed to bring edicts into effect; and (3) interests advocating their negotiation, adoption, ratification, and domestic implementation.

Experimental and quasiexperimental evaluations of treaties would provide more information about what can be expected from this type of global intervention.

Hoffman, S.J. & C., T., 2015. Biological, Psychological and Social Processes that Explain Celebrities' Influence on Patients' Health-Related Behaviors. Archives of Public Health , 73 (3) , pp. 1-11. PDFAbstract

BackgroundCelebrities can have substantial influence as medical advisors. However, their impact on public health is equivocal: depending on the advice’s validity and applicability, celebrity engagements can benefit or hinder efforts to educate patients on evidence-based practices and improve their health literacy. This meta-narrative analysis synthesizes multiple disciplinary insights explaining the influence celebrities have on people’s health-related behaviors.

Methods: Systematic searches of electronic databases BusinessSource Complete, Communication & Mass Media Complete, Humanities Abstracts, ProQuest Political Science, PsycINFO, PubMed, and Sociology Abstracts were conducted. Retrieved articles were used to inform a conceptual analysis of the possible processes accounting for the substantial influence celebrities may have as medical advisors.

Results: Fourteen mechanisms of celebrity influence were identified. According to the economics literature, celebrities distinguish endorsed items from competitors and can catalyze herd behavior. Marketing studies tell us that celebrities’ characteristics are transferred to endorsed products, and that the most successful celebrity advisors are those viewed as credible, a perception they can create with their success. Neuroscience research supports these explanations, finding that celebrity endorsements activate brain regions involved in making positive associations, building trust and encoding memories. The psychology literature tells us that celebrity advice conditions people to react positively toward it. People are also inclined to follow celebrities if the advice matches their self-conceptions or if not following it would generate cognitive dissonance. Sociology explains how celebrities’ advice spreads through social networks, how their influence is a manifestation of people’s desire to acquire celebrities’ social capital, and how they affect the ways people acquire and interpret health information.

Conclusion: There are clear and deeply rooted biological, psychological and social processes that explain how celebrities influence people’s health behaviors. With a better understanding of this phenomenon, medical professionals can work to ensure that it is harnessed for good rather than abused for harm. Physicians can discuss with their patients the validity of celebrity advice and share more credible sources of health information. Public health practitioners can debunk celebrities offering unsubstantiated advice or receiving inappropriate financial compensation, and should collaborate with well-meaning celebrities, leveraging their influence to disseminate medical practices of demonstrated benefit.

Belluz, J. & Hoffman, S.J., 2015. Don’t Just Google Your Health Questions; Use These Sites Instead. Vox . Article
Sandberg, K., Hoffman, S.J. & Pearcey, M., 2015. Lessons for Global Health from Global Environmental Governance, London: Chatham House (Royal Institute of International Affairs, UK). PDFAbstract

This paper examines how global health’s institutional architecture should be matched with its governance needs by drawing lessons from the field of global environmental governance.

Hoffman, S.J., Cole, C.B. & Pearcey, M., 2015. Mapping Global Health Architecture to Inform the Future, London: Chatham House (Royal Institute of International Affairs, UK). PDFAbstract

This paper finds that some functions in the global health system are performed by a greater concentration of actors than others, which may not be the best configuration to match the future challenges that the global health system will face. 

Hoffman, S.J., 2015. A Science of Global Strategy. In J. Frenk & S. J. Hoffman, ed. “To Save Humanity”: What Matters Most for a Healthy Future. Oxford. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 173-176.Abstract

We must learn how to act collectively across national borders so that we can effectively address the transnational health threats and social inequalities that face us.

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Edge, J.S. & Hoffman, S.J., 2015. Strengthening National Health Systems’ Capacity to Respond to Future Global Pandemics. In S. Davies & J. Youde, ed. The Politics of Surveillance and Responses to Disease Outbreaks. Surrey, UK. Surrey, UK: Ashgate Publishing, pp. 157-179. Full BookAbstract

The capacity to conduct international disease outbreak surveillance and share information about outbreaks quickly has empowered both State and Non-State Actors to take an active role in stopping the spread of disease by generating new technical means to identify potential pandemics through the creation of shared reporting platforms. Despite all the rhetoric about the importance of infectious disease surveillance, the concept itself has received relatively little critical attention from academics, practitioners, and policymakers. This book asks leading contributors in the field to engage with five key issues attached to international disease outbreak surveillance - transparency, local engagement, practical needs, integration, and appeal - to illuminate the political effect of these technologies on those who use surveillance, those who respond to surveillance, and those being monitored.

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Frenk, J. & Hoffman, S.J. ed., 2015. "To Save Humanity": What Matters Most for a Healthy Future, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Full BookAbstract
  • Nearly 100 short, accessible essays on today's most pressing topics, authored by leading global figures from politics, science, academia, and advocacy
  • Contributors include luminaries, former presidents, and celebrated dignitaries from all sectors of society
  • Taken together, can serve as a primer of current world events and a prescriptive to-do list for future policies and interventions

"The UN was not created to take mankind to heaven, but to save humanity from hell." -- Dag Hammarskjold, United Nations Secretary-General 1953-1961 The turn of the 21st century was an objective low point in the history of human health: AIDS was scourging Africa, millions of women died each year in child birth, and billions suffered under malnourishment and poverty. In response, the United Nations launched its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), an ambitious charter that since 2000 has measurably reduced the worldwide burdens of poverty, hunger, and disease. With the MDGs set to expire in 2015, continued progress on these fronts is anything but certain. In addition to the persisting threats of the 20th century, globalization has sped the development of new threats -pandemics, climate change, chronic disease - that now threaten rich and poor countries equally. "To Save Humanity" is a collection of short, honest essays on what single issue matters most for the future of global health. Authored by the world's leading voices from science, politics, and social advocacy, this collection is both a primer on the major issues of our time and a potential blueprint for post-2015 health and development. This unparalleled collection will provide illuminating and thought-provoking reading for anyone invested in our collective future and well-being.

2014
Belluz, J. & Hoffman, S.J., 2014. The Black-White Health Gap: Why Black Men Can Expect to Live Five Years Fewer Than White Men. Vox. Article
Flood, C.M. & Hoffman, S.J., 2014. Ottawa Moves to Strip Power from Top Public Health Scientist. The Toronto Star. Article
Hoffman, S.J., 2014. Canada’s Ebola Visa Ban Puts Us All at Risk in the Long Run. The Toronto Star. Article
Belluz, J. & Hoffman, S.J., 2014. The Ebola Outbreak’s Real Cause: Letting Industry Drive the Research Agenda. Vox. Article
Belluz, J. & Hoffman, S.J., 2014. The Evidence on Travel Bans for Diseases like Ebola is Clear: They Don’t Work. Vox. Article
Belluz, J. & Hoffman, S.J., 2014. Four Global Health Issues You’ve Been Ignoring Because of Ebola. Vox. Article
Hoffman, S.J., 2014. Making the International Health Regulations Matter: Promoting Compliance through Effective Dispute Resolution. In S. Rushton & J. Youde, ed. Routledge Handbook on Global Health Security. Oxford. Oxford: Routledge, pp. 239-251. Full BookAbstract

This new Handbook presents an overview of cutting-edge research in the growing field of global health security.

Over the past decade, the study of global health and its interconnection with security has become a prominent and rapidly growing field of research. Ongoing debates question whether health and security should be linked; which (if any) health issues should be treated as security threats; what should be done to address health security threats; and the positive and negative consequences of ‘securitizing’ health. In academic and policy terms, the health security field is a timely and dynamic one and this handbook will be the first work comprehensively to address this agenda.

Bringing together the leading experts and commentators on health security issues from across the world, the volume comprises original and cutting-edge essays addressing the key issues in the field and also highlighting currently neglected avenues for future research. The book intends to provide an accessible yet sophisticated introduction to the key topics and debates and is organised into four key parts:

    • Health Securities: the fundamental conceptual issues, historical links between health and security and the various ways of conceptualising health as a security issue

    • Threats: those health issues which have been most frequently discussed in security terms

    • Responses: the wide range of contemporary security-driven responses to health threats

  • Controversies: the securitization of health, its impact on rights and justice and the potential distortion of the global health agenda

This book will be of great interest to students of global health security, public health, critical security studies, and International Relations in general.

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Belluz, J. & Hoffman, S.J., 2014. White Privilege is the Best Medicine. Vox. Article
Belluz, J. & Hoffman, S.J., 2014. Why Travel Bans Will Only Make the Ebola Epidemic Worse. Vox. Article
Belluz, J. & Hoffman, S.J., 2014. Why We Fail at Stopping Outbreaks like Ebola. Vox . Article
Gordon, J., Røttingen, J.-A. & Hoffman, S.J., 2014. The Meningitis Vaccine Project. Harvard Global Health Case #11, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.

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