Nancy E. Adler, a health psychologist whose work helped transform the public understanding of the relationship between socioeconomic status and physical health, died on Jan. 4 at her home in San Francisco. She was 77.
The cause was pancreatic cancer, her husband, Arnold Milstein, said.
Dr. Adler was instrumental in documenting the powerful role that education, income and self-perceived status in society play in predicting health and longevity.
Today, the connection is well known — a truism among public health experts is that life expectancy is determined more by your ZIP code than your genetic code. But it was an obscure notion as recently as 30 years ago.
“It’s thanks to the decades of Nancy’s work and leadership that we now recognize socioeconomic status as one of the biggest and most consistent predictors of morbidity and mortality that we know of,” said Elissa Epel, a health psychologist at the University of California, San Francisco, and a mentee of Dr. Adler’s.