Aveneu Park, Starling, Australia

Introduction Health disparities can be defined as

and Background

Health Disparities and Inequities

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disparities can be defined as a difference in health between groups in part due
to economic, social, or environmental disadvantages. Further, health
disparities in the United States have been known to unfavorably affect groups
of people that experience greater social or economic obstacles to health based
on aspects such as their race or ethnicity, religion, location, socioeconomic
status, gender, age and even mental health status or physical disability (Bravemen,

to Bravemen (2014), Health equity is a term used for social justice in health.
In order words, it means that no groups or individuals are denied healthfulness
due to being a part of a specific group that has been identified as
economically or socially disadvantaged in the past. Therefore, from that
definition, we can determine that health inequities refer to an unjust
difference in health status. In fact, these differences in health status could
be avoidable via practicable means (Arcaya, Arcaya & Subramanian, 2015).

Historical context

Factors that lead to health

            Several factors
exist that may lead to health disparities and equities. These factors can be
defined as resources that can act as barriers in seeking care. Having health
insurance, or lack therefore is among the most commonly cited. In the United
States, health insurance is commonly linked to employment. However, many
minorities often hold low-wage jobs that may not offer health insurance coverage
(LaVeist, 2005).

            Mistrust of health care and perceived discrimination can also
lead to health disparities. Discrimination can be defined as a difference in
treatment based on race, ethnicity or race (Weech-Maldonado, Hall, Bryant,
Jenkins & Elliott, 2012). Perceived discrimination can lead to individuals
postponing or foregoing medical treatment. Individuals are also more likely to
not take advantage of preventative services as well as not adhere to provider recommendations
and treatments (Stepanikova & Oates, 2016). It is not uncommon for
minorities to have higher levels of mistrust of health care. In fact, studies
have shown that African American are more than twice more likely to believe
that hospitals have conducted harmful experiments on patients without consent
(LaVeist, 2005).

            Provider attitudes is another factor that can also lead
to health disparities. In fact, research has shown that patient characteristics
such as socioeconomic status, race, and ethnicity can have an impact on the
level of care that a patient receives (Kendrick, Nuccio, Leiferman &
Sauaia, 2015). Further, a study conducted in 2002 regarding patient
interactions based on race found that physicians consistently reported negative
attitudes towards African American patient compared to their Caucasian
counterparts. These differences in provider attitudes can affect a patient’s
rate of health service usage, including preventative care services (LaVeist,

            A final factor that can lead to
health disparities are language barriers. Studies have shown a clear
association between language barriers and lower quality of care. In fact,
individuals who are not English speakers are more likely to misunderstand
diagnosis, treatment plans, provider recommendation and medication instructions
(LaVeist, 2005). Further, limited English-language patients often report having
to use their family members as interpreters. While the use of interpreters can
increase the quality of care received, interpreter encounters can reduce open 


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