Health Disparities

What are health disparities?
A health disparity is defined as a higher burden of illness, injury, disability, or morality experienced by one population group in relation to another. Racial differences in socioeconomic status, residential conditions and medical care are some examples of important contributors to racial differences in disease.

How do health disparities differ from health care disparities?
A health care disparity refers to differences in health coverage, access, or quality of care that is not due to health needs.

Why do racial/ethnic disparities exist in the health care system?
There is no single, simple answer. Racial and ethnic minorities tend to receive lower-quality health care than Whites do, even when insurance status, income, age, and severity of conditions are comparable, says a 2002 report of the Institute of Medicine. Among the better-controlled studies performed to assess the reasons why – some reason have been fount to be: healthcare delivery systems and access to health care (cultural/linguistic barriers, system fragmentation and incentives to physicians to limit services), physician biases, patient perceptions and clinical uncertainty when interacting with patients of color.

Why do health disparities exist among African Americans?
Although we do know health disparities exist, we cannot precisely say why they exist. GRAAHI was established to explore the causes of these disparities and will work to provide strategies to eliminate them by advancing understanding of the development and progression of diseases that contribute to them. Cited causes of health disparities are numerous and include: lack of insurance, access to healthcare, poverty, education levels, cultural differences, language barriers, access to transportation, racism, environmental risks and differences in individual and community support.

Why was a health institute established to study and improve health care only among African Americans and not all minority groups?
While health disparities do exist among other minority groups, the disparities among the black population are so alarming that an intentional effort, focused solely on the needs of African Americans, is important. Staggering data from the Kent County Health Department and other national health organizations indicates disproportionate rates of preventable illness, chronic disease, and premature death among African Americans.