An Examination of the Determinants of Public Health Disparities and How to Mitigate Them
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There are various factors that impact the state of public health, among them are: socioeconomic status, occupation and work status, psychosocial support, education and health behaviors. Studies have shown that each of these components affects the overall morbidity and mortality rates of members of different communities throughout the world. Two landmark studies lay the foundation for future studies exploring the affects of inequalities on the status of public health (Marmot, Rose, Shipley, & Hamilton, 1978; Marmot, et al., 1991). Before discussing the findings of public health researchers investigating causal factors of public health disparities, it is important to understand how “public health disparities” have actually been defined. According to the article written by public health research professionals Kilbourne et al. (2006), which provides a design framework for public health research, health disparities are “observed, clinically and statistically significant differences in health outcomes or health care use between socially distinct vulnerable and less vulnerable populations that are not explained by the effects of selection bias” (Kilbourne, Switzer, Hyman, Crowley-Matoka, & Fine, 2006). This definition includes differences in health statuses, for example life expectancy, medical outcomes of illnesses and health care use. Differences in the quality and receipt of health care are also critical points of analysis under this definition. Observed or reported differences in health care, health outcomes or health statuses represent inequalities, or measurable gaps, between different groups or communities.
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