The theme of this issue of The American Journal of the Medical Sciences is “Exploring Demographic Health Differences—A Foundation for Addressing Health Disparities in Cardiovascular Disease.” There have been significant improvements in health indicators in the united States and developed countries over the last 20 years. However, evidence indicates that the improvements are not consistent across all groups of people with rates of disease, premature death and disability disproportionate across race/ethnicity, age and gender. Simply stated, health disparities refer to differences between groups of people. These differences can impact how frequently a disease affects a group, how many people get sick or how often the disease causes adverse health outcomes. Healthy People 2020 define a health disparity as “a particular type of health difference that is closely linked with social, economic and/or environmental disadvantage. Health disparities adversely affect groups of people who have systematically experienced greater obstacles to health based on 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.”
1.Thus, health disparities result from multiple factors including not only poverty, environmental dangers and inadequate access to health care, but also individual and behavioral factors and educational inequalities.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
The Secretary's Advisory Committee on National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectives for 2020.
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- The Secretary's Advisory Committee on National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectives for 2020.(Accessed June 16, 2014, Phase I report: recommendations for the framework and format of Healthy People 2020. Section IV. Advisory Committee Findings and Recommendations)
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The authors have no financial or other conflicts of interest to disclose.
© 2014 Southern Society for Clinical Investigation. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.