Monday, November 23, 2009

Rooting Out the Causes of Health Disparities

Rooting Out the Causes of Health Disparities

By Joyce Frieden
Elsevier Global Medical News Conferences in Depth
The definition of “health disparities” should be broadened to include the conditions that caused the affected groups to have poor health in the first place, according to Dr. Camara Jones of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The usual definition of health disparities refers to differences in the quality of care patients receive within the health care system, as well as differences in access to care, including preventive and curative services, Dr. Jones said at a meeting of the federal Advisory Committee on Minority Health. However, “differences in life opportunities, exposures, and stresses that result in differences in underlying health status” also must be taken into account. So although health is partly determined by medical care and public health conditions, “it clearly extends beyond these [factors],” she said.
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