There exist wide disparities in the health status of individuals in various social groups.
The majority of people that belong to the lower socio-economic position will generally be at a
higher risk of poor health. The National Institute of Health defines health disparities as the
differences among specific population groups in the attainment of quality health care measured
in terms of incidence, prevalence, mortality, burden disease, and other adverse health conditions.
The World Health Organization further defines health disparities as systemic differences in
distributing health resources between different population groups. On the other hand, healthy
People (2010) defines health disparities as the health 'differences that occur by gender, race or
ethnicity, education or income, disability, geographic location, or sexual orientation." Health
disparities are linked to economic, ethnic, social, and environmental disadvantages both to
individuals and societies. Health disparities are unfair as they tend to steal away the health equity
the government strives hard to provide.
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Health disparities indicators
Scholars have used various health indicators to demonstrate the concept of health
disparities among the various groups in a country's population, whether based on ethnicity,
religion, or social class. Infant gestation age is one such indicator used. Infant gestation age is
used to predict morbidity and infant mortality, and it has been found to differ among the various
racial and ethnic groups. According to 2014 statistics from the National Center for Health
Statistics (NCHS), African American women had the highest percentage of preterm singleton
births at 11.1%, while the Asian had the lowest 6.8% (Thornton, 2017). NCHS further notes that
while the infants' mortality rates significantly declined from 2004 to 2014, disparities among the
racial groups persisted. Heart-related conditions and cancer result in more deaths across race and ethnic lines. African Americans were more likely than whites to die from heart-related complications, according to 2010 statistics. The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that close to 44% of African American men and 48% of African American women have
some form of a heart-related condition (Thornton, 2017). Disparities are also noticeable in the
rates of homicide-related deaths reported. Homicide-related deaths are closely related to mental
health, and thus, disparities in addressing mental health raise the rates of homicides. The highest
rates of homicide-related deaths are reported among African Americans at 4.2%.
One possible cause of health disparity is social disadvantages (Thornton, 2017). The
social disadvantage arises due to unjust and avoidable social factors. According to Healthy
People (2010), there is a difference between a "health difference" and a "health disparity" in that
a health difference results from inherent biological factors while a health disparity results from
social factors (Thornton, 2017). Secondly, racial/ethnic differences also contribute to health
disparities, especially when health providers are biased or stereotype against patients because of
their skin color, religion, or ethnicity. Although race and ethnicities are social constructs, they
have a tangible impact on one's perception of self and how others perceive him/her. Health
disparities affecting the minority population groups in the US include a higher prevalence of
chronic conditions and premature death than their White counterparts. The language barrier is
another possible cause. If the health care provider and the patient fail to communicate and
understand each other, quality health care can be compromised.
Health disparity in the USA
In the United States, different forms of disparity exist, such as race, sex, age, disability,
sexuality, socio-economic status, origin, and geographical location, contributing to one's ability
to achieve good health (Thornton, 2017). In 2008, 38% of the USA population identified as
belonging to the minority, 51 % are women, 23% live in rural areas, and 4% of the population acknowledges being Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (The Center for Disease Control
and Prevention, 2019). The health disparity among the LGBT minority group, for instance, arises
from the stigma, social and legal discrimination they face from the wider society. Premature
deaths are highly prevalent among people living in rural areas, either due to lack of or inadequate
health provision. Other minority groups in the US majorly affected by health disparities include
the Native Americans and military veterans (Gollust et al., 2018). This demographic summary
offers insight into the diverse nature of the population and its role in healthcare disparities.
My interest in this topic is based on the need to understand my role in promoting
universal healthcare. The health disparities topic compromises the goal of universal healthcare
and healthy people 2020. The Healthy People 2020 is a national government policy that focuses
on building a healthier nation. Its objective looks at identifying preventable threats and reducing
them to achieve a society with people who live long and healthy (The Center for Disease Control
and Prevention, 2019). As a nurse, my interest is to understand my position in addressing the
issue with practice-based techniques. Nurses have the privilege to influence individuals as they
relate with patients, organizations, and policy development. Nurses can communicate with
patients during clinical encounters to improve their medical care perception at an individual
level. Nurses can influence organizations in structuring care delivery that focus on patient needs
with diversity sensitivity. At a policy level, nurses can advocate and participate in policy
development to ensure improved access from minority groups. Policy developments can lead to
culturally and linguistically sensitive care delivery.
The primary goal of public health in the US is to reduce health disparities (Thornton et
al., 2016). Despite the significant strides made in eliminating health disparities, equity in health
is yet to be achieved. Possible solutions to reduce health disparities include early childhood interventions such as structured early childhood education, improving health and lifestyle
behaviors, addressing socio-contextual barriers such as access to employment, and providing
culturally competent health care.
Early childhood interventions, including structured early childhood education and
parental support, generally influence health outcomes positively (Thornton et al., 2016). Through
quality education, the economic inequalities are addressed, and so are the hygiene levels across
all populations. Along ethnic lines, economic inequalities are to blame for the shift in health
disparities. Early childhood will, in the long-term, make a sizeable contribution to reducing
health disparities. The early-childhood interventions can be implemented as community-based
programs funded by the federal governments and the states.
Additionally, colleges and universities can take the students from the community-based
program to enable them further their education and eventually turning them into essential people
in the community. Ignoring the solutions to the widening health disparities in the US would
affect the citizens' overall production, and this will have adverse effects across all sectors of the
political and socio-economic spheres. Implementing early childhood education requires
combined efforts, and therefore, a failure by any party could be catastrophic as it would bring the
entire system built on the intervention down.
The early childhood education-centered intervention's ethical implication would be a
conflict between the child and the guardian because children are subject to stewardship by
guardians. A common presumption of societies that protect and promote the family's institution
is that the parent is responsible for the child's cultural, religious, and philosophical views and
perceptions and significantly makes decisions on behalf of the child (Moon, 2019). Possible
conflicts could arise if the guardians of children wishing to be enrolled fail to give permission.
However, amicable discussions and parents' involvement in articulating the early childhood
education-centered intervention would go a long way in ensuring that the intervention is