Health Economics

Bidisha Mandal’s extension program examines health policies and how they affect health outcomes and health related decision-making processes.

Infants and Young Children


Mothers who return to work are less likely to breastfeed and will breastfeed for fewer weeks than mothers who do not return to labor market work.  However, supportive community settings and employers can greatly reduce the disparity.  Read a report on the latest statistics from the Northwest region on mothers’ choice of feeding practices as they combine employment with breastfeeding.  Read the Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding, 2011, which cites our work from 2008 and 2010.

Food Insecurity

The effects of food insecurity on parenting practices are well-documented, which in turn are significantly associated with infant feeding, and consequently with the health outcomes of children, such as weight, height and overall health status. See some recent statistics from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Program at



According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention obesity rates increased from 5% to about 18% between 1976-1980 and 2007-2008 among adolescents aged 12-19 years.  There are significant racial/ethnic and income disparities in adolescent obesity.

An innovative study was conducted in six public schools in Spokane, Washington to understand the connection between changes in school food environment and food choices of young middle school students.  Read a brief report about this study.

Substance Abuse

The Strengthening Families Program for Parents and Youth 10-14 Years is a nationally recognized curriculum that provides parent, youth and family education.  The model is designed to be delivered in local communities for groups of 7-12 families, and is popular in the state of Washington.  Read a brief report on who attends the program and how the information may be used to estimate the impact of the program.



The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (enacted in 1994) is expected to provide consistent and standardized nutrition information to help consumers choose more healthful foods in order to promote better health outcomes.  Read a report on how reading food labels could be an important tool in achieving weight loss.


Is it possible to connect job insecurity to depression?  Read a report discussing how mass-layoffs are associated with increasing medical expenditures induced by greater stress about potential job loss, with a special focus on the labor market situation in the state of Washington.

Transitional Care

Researchers from the College of Nursing, WSU are implementing an innovative model to improve transitional care whereby home healthcare staff nurses, known as Home Health Care Coordinators, who have expertise in both home healthcare nursing and in hospital discharge planning, deliver core transitional care interventions to patients at high risk for potentially preventable readmissions.  Check back to see the cost-effectiveness analysis of this model!


Extension Reports

Mandal, B. & Lee, S.  Hard at work: Breastfeeding changes between 1992 and 2007.

Mandal, B.  Food choices of middle school students: An intervention study.

Mandal, B.  Attendance in the Strengthening Families Program.

Mandal, B.  Easier to eat fewer calories than to burn them!

Mandal, B.  Mass lay-offs and medical expenditures.

Mandal, B. Reading Food Labels Can Improve Changes of Weight Loss

Mandal, B. How Economic Crisis Affects Medical Expenditures

Mandal, B. Provisions of the Affordable Care Act and Washington’s Health Insurance Exchange

Mandal, B. Changes in a Middle School Food Environment Affect Food Behavior and Food Choices


Media & Presentations

Presentation at the Washington State Association of Counties, 2011 Extension Directors Conference, Bellevue, Washington.  “Economic Tools to Evaluate Social Science Programs

NPR interview on reading food labels and weight loss:

Seattle King5 News on reading food labels and weight loss:

Twitter feed @socscimed on March 15, 2011 on depression and job insecurity: “Increase in concern about possible job loss elevates depression among workers close to retirement more than job loss”

Presentation on Obesity Research at WSU Whatcom County Extension Office, April 2008: “A multilevel approach to model weight gain

Presentation at the American Public Health Association meeting, November 2009: “The effect of work status on breastfeeding initiation and duration

Presentation at the American Public Health Association meeting, November 2010: “Disentangling maternal decisions concerning breastfeeding and paid employment


Contact Info

Bidisha Mandal

Email Address:

Office Location:
103F Hulbert Hall
Office phone: 335-7553

Washington State University