Racial Health Disparities

Healthcare disparities between different racial and ethnic groups have been known to exist for a long time. Three of the main areas that contribute to these disparities are described below.

Socioeconomic status

Certain racial groups tend to live in poorer neighbourhoods and are more likely to have less access to good nutrition, healthcare services, clean water and a good level of sanitation. 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

Educational status can 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.

Language differences

Effective communication between healthcare providers and patients is critical for the delivery of safe and effective treatment and care. Poor communication can lead to inaccurate diagnosis, incorrect use of medication and failure to attend follow-up appointments. Language differences that exist between a patient and their healthcare provider can lead to a patient feeling confused about the healthcare advice and failing to comply with medical regimens. Communication can also be hindered by culture differences between the healthcare provider and the patient. Providers should take into account their patients’ cultural beliefs and practices in order to properly understand their views on health and disease.

Further Reading

Last Updated: Feb 26, 2019

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


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