Awareness Of Racial And Ethnic Health Disparities Has Improved Only Modestly Over A Decade

NORC at the University of Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Health Affairs (Impact Factor: 4.97). 10/2011; 30(10):1860-7. DOI: 10.1377/hlthaff.2010.0702
Source: PubMed


Documented disparities exist in the United States between the majority white population and various racial and ethnic minority populations on several health and health care indicators, including access to and quality of care, disease prevalence, infant mortality, and life expectancy. However, awareness of these disparities-a necessary first step toward changing behavior and compelling action-remains limited. Our survey of 3,159 adults age eighteen or older found that 59 percent of Americans in 2010 were aware of racial and ethnic disparities that disproportionately affect African Americans and Hispanics or Latinos. That number represents a modest increase over the 55 percent recorded in a 1999 survey. Meanwhile, in our survey, 89 percent of African American respondents were aware of African American and white disparities, versus 55 percent of whites. Yet the survey also revealed low levels of awareness among racial and ethnic minority groups about disparities that disproportionately affect their own communities. For example, only 54 percent of African Americans were aware of disparities in the rate of HIV/AIDS between African Americans and whites, and only 21 percent of Hispanics or Latinos were aware of those disparities between their group and whites. Policy makers must increase the availability and quality of data on racial and ethnic health disparities and create multisectoral partnerships to develop targeted educational campaigns to increase awareness of health disparities.

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Available from: Angela Fontes, Apr 08, 2014
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    • "One critical area to target is the future scientific and medical workforce. Awareness of health disparities remains low among the general public and among racial minorities, who have low levels of appreciation of the disparities disproportionally affecting their own communities (Benz et al., 2011). It is imperative to train knowledgeable and passionate biomedical professionals from diverse backgrounds to have a solid understanding of health disparities (Lunn and Sanchez, 2011). "
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    ABSTRACT: Disparities in health and healthcare are a major concern in the United States and worldwide. Approaches to alleviate these disparities must be multifaceted and should include initiatives that touch upon the diverse areas that influence the healthcare system. Developing a strong biomedical workforce with an awareness of the issues concerning health disparities is crucial for addressing this issue. Establishing undergraduate health disparities courses that are accessible to undergraduate students in the life sciences is necessary to increase students' understanding and awareness of these issues and motivate them to address these disparities during their careers. The majority of universities do not include courses related to health disparities in their curricula, and only a few universities manage them from their life sciences departments. The figures are especially low for minority-serving institutions, which serve students from communities disproportionally affected by health disparities. Universities should consider several possible approaches to infuse their undergraduate curricula with health disparities courses or activities. Eliminating health disparities will require efforts from diverse stakeholders. Undergraduate institutions can play an important role in developing an aware biomedical workforce and helping to close the gap in health outcomes. © 2014 R. Benabentos et al. CBE—Life Sciences Education © 2014 The American Society for Cell Biology. This article is distributed by The American Society for Cell Biology under license from the author(s). It is available to the public under an Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike 3.0 Unported Creative Commons License (
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