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How can you help reduce healthcare disparities?

Who can help reduce healthcare disparities? Are you a student at a medical school?  Are you involved in a career day at your kid’s Middle or High School?  Is your student considering a career in medicine? Do you know a minority in healthcare that you can encourage to do a presentation?

Increasing the number of minority physicians and medical students into the community is a way to introduce children to professional role models and aims to show kids of all ages, especially those from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, that medicine is an attainable career option for everyone. This is the main goal of the American Medical Association’s Doctors Back to School Program to reduce healthcare disparities.  Healthcare translations for patient populations and Plain Language Writing in English are one of our main areas of expertise.

Racial and Ethnic Disparities in healthcare

In 2000, about 33% of the U.S. population identified themselves as members of racial or ethnic minority groups. By 2050, it is projected that these groups will account for almost half of the U.S. population.

An understanding of how race, ethnicity, geography, education, and income impact one’s access to health services can provide valuable insight. Learning more about these healthcare disparities can be a way of lessening these kinds of inequalities.

Living in substandard housing or in low-income neighborhoods results in higher rates of overweight and obesity due to lack of healthy food options and opportunities for safe physical activity. However, even when minority populations do have access to good food and physical activity, many continue to receive a lower quality of care than non-minorities.2

For all Americans, influences on health include the availability of and access to:

·         High-quality education

·         Nutritious food

·         Decent and safe housing

·         Affordable, reliable public transportation

·         Culturally sensitive health care providers

·         Health insurance

·         Clean water and non-polluted air

There are four times more supermarkets located in non-Hispanic white neighborhoods than in African-American neighborhoods. The presence of supermarkets is associated with lower prevalence of obesity and overweight, which are major risk factors for diabetes.1

  1. Presentation by Michelle Gourdine at the American Diabetes Association’s 2008 Annual Partnership Forum. See diabetes.org.
  2. Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care. 2003. The National Academies Press.