Many minority groups are heavily affected by health disparities in the United States and a similar picture exists in the UK and worldwide. Several factors have been identified as contributors to these health disparities and some of these are described below.
- Race, ethnic, and cultural differences.
- Gender – Women are more likely to face healthcare disparities than men are.
- Age – Children and the elderly are at a greater risk of receiving inadequate healthcare. Female children are more likely to be poorly nourished and lack adequate healthcare than male children. Elderly individuals suffer from healthcare inequalities due to various reasons including lack of family, financial difficulties, language problems, and physical inability to reach healthcare facilities and access healthcare.
- Sexual orientation – Lesbians, homosexuals and transsexuals are more likely to be discriminated against and not receive adequate healthcare.
- Disability – People with a learning disability such as Down’s syndrome are at risk of receiving a poorer level of healthcare.
- Educational status and income – Socioeconomic status has been identified as a major determinant of healthcare provision. In the United States, those of poor socioeconomic status are more likely to receive inadequate healthcare due to lack of insurance coverage and financial resources. Educational status can also influence the ability to comprehend medical instructions, comply with medication regimens, recognise warning signs, and attend follow up appointments.
Poor education is strongly associated with health problems such as teenage pregnancy, obesity, inadequate physical activity, substance abuse, smoking, alcohol abuse, physical, sexual and emotional abuse and gang involvement.