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Elimination of Health Disparities

America benefits when everyone has the opportunity to live a long, healthy, and productive life, yet health disparities persist. A health disparity is a difference in health outcomes across subgroups of the population. Health disparities are often linked to social, economic, or environmental disadvantages (e.g., less access to good jobs, unsafe neighborhoods, lack of affordable transportation options). Health disparities adversely affect groups of people who have systematically experienced greater obstacles to health on the basis of their racial or ethnic group, religion, socioeconomic status, gender, age, mental health, cognitive, sensory, or physical disability, sexual orientation or gender identity, geographic location, or other characteristics historically linked to discrimination or exclusion. Many health concerns, such as heart disease, asthma, obesity, diabetes, HIV/ AIDS, viral hepatitis B and C, infant mortality, and violence, disproportionately affect certain populations. Reducing disparities in health will give everyone a chance to live a healthy life and improve the quality of life for all Americans.

Download and print these recommendations: Elimination of Health Disparities (PDF – 242 KB)

Recommendations:

  1. Ensure a strategic focus on communities at greatest risk.
  2. Reduce disparities in access to quality health care.
  3. Increase the capacity of the prevention workforce to identify and address disparities.
  4. Support research to identify effective strategies to eliminate health disparities.
  5. Standardize and collect data to better identify and address disparities.

What Can State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Governments Do? 

  • Use data to identify populations at greatest risk and work with communities to implement policies and programs that address highest priority needs.
  • Improve coordination, collaboration, and opportunities for engaging community leaders and members in prevention.
  • Improve privacy-protected health data collection for underserved populations to help improve programs and policies for these populations.

What Can Businesses and Employers Do? 

  • Provide opportunities for workplace prevention activities, including preventive screenings.
  • Partner with local resources such as libraries and literacy programs to enhance employees’ ability to identify and use reliable health information.

What Can Health Care Systems, Insurers, and Clinicians Do? 

  • Increase the cultural and communication competence of health care providers.
  • Train and hire more qualified staff from underrepresented racial and ethnic minorities and people with disabilities.
  • Enhance care coordination and quality of care (e.g., medical home models, integrated care teams).

What Can Early Learning Centers, Schools, Colleges, and Universities Do? 

  • Conduct research to identify new, effective policy and program interventions to reduce health disparities.
  • Conduct outreach to increase the diversity (e.g., racial/ethnic, income, disability) in health care and public health careers.
  • Offer preventive services (e.g., mental health services, oral care, vision, and hearing screenings) for all children, especially those at risk.
  • Develop and implement local strategies to reduce health, psychosocial, and environmental conditions that affect school attendance and chronic absenteeism.

What Can Community, Non-Profit, and Faith-Based Organizations Do? 

  • Bring together professionals from a range of sectors (e.g., transportation, health, environment, labor, education, and housing) with community representatives to ensure that community health needs are identified and that needs and barriers are addressed.
  • Help ensure that prevention strategies are culturally, linguistically, and age appropriate, and that they match people’s health literacy skills.
  • Provide Internet access and skill-building courses to help residents find reliable health information and services.

What Can Individuals and Families Do? 

  • Participate in community-led prevention efforts.
  • Use community resources (e.g., libraries, literacy programs) to improve their ability to read, understand, and use health information.