What do we mean by health disparities?
Health disparities are the differences in the incidence, prevalence, mortality and burden of diseases and other adverse health conditions that exist among specific population groups in the U.S. (National Institutes of Health, Strategic Research Plan to Reduce and Ultimately Eliminate Health Disparities, 2000). Please click on the "Terms to know" link in the left hand column for more information.
Whose problem is it?
We are all impacted by health disparities and we all need to play a role in their elimination. It is anticipated that by 2050 minorities will account for nearly 90 percent of the total growth of the U.S. population. The future of our country as a whole will be influenced by our success in improving the health of these groups.
Where do we start?
Awareness about health disparities on an individual, local, state and national level is the first step to addressing the problem. According to the Institute of Medicine, education may be the most important tool in the effort to eliminate health disparities.
What is the cause of health disparities?
The cause of health disparities is complex and no one strategy will solve the problem. Research has identified some of the underlying causes of health disparities as racism, poverty and challenging community environments.
In what ways can a VCU faculty member or scientist connect with the CoHD?
We regularly seek faculty with interests in initiating or enhancing their portfolios of research focused on minority health/health disparities. To learn more, please contact Marcie Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whom do I contact if I have a health disparities question I can’t answer?
Feel free to contact us. We will try our best to answer your question(s) or direct you to the appropriate resource.
What are the major focus areas and populations with health disparities?
Significant differences in health outcomes within and across populations commonly occur by:
- Socioeconomic status or class (e.g., income, employment, education)
- Gender (e.g., male, female)
- Race (e.g., Black, American Indian, Asian, White, Pacific Islander)
- Ethnicity (e.g., Latino, Hispanic)
- Geographic location (e.g., rural, urban)
- Language (e.g., ability to speak English)
- Occupation (e.g., blue collar, white collar)
- Disability status (e.g., physically or developmentally disabled)
- Sexual orientation (e.g., lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender)
What is the fastest growing ethnic group in the U.S.?
The population of Hispanic patients is growing rapidly. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, by 2005 Hispanics were nearly 15 percent of the overall population, making Hispanics the largest and fastest growing ethnic group in the nation.
There are disproportionately few Hispanic health providers. Consider nurses, who constitute the “front line” of health care. In 2004, only 1.8 percent of registered nurses in the U.S. were Hispanic, according to the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hispanics have the lowest level of health insurance among U.S. racial/ethnic groups, and Hispanics in Virginia have the lowest percentage of mothers beginning prenatal care in the first trimester.