Monday, November 25, 2013

CDC Releases Health Disparities and Inequalities Report

The CDC released their second report on Health Disparities and Inequalities last week in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

This report is a detailed, comprehensive examination of the health status of people living in the United States broken down by race and socioeconomic status. The 187 page report contains numerous individual studies investigating a host of things (morbidity, mortality, unemployment, education, health behaviors, rates of HIV infection, obesity, tuberculosis, access to healthy food, cancer screening, homicide rates, et cetera).

Not surprisingly, substantial differences in health were identified across all health parameters by race as well as socioeconomic status.

A few of the key findings are highlighted below (this is far from a comprehensive list):

1) Black adults are > 50% more likely than white adults to die from heart disease
2) Diabetes is more prevalent in hispanic and black Americans than in whites
3) Infant mortality is > 2 times higher for blacks (than whites)
4) Poverty was associated with a higher risk for diabetes, HIV and hypertension, as well as a decreased likelihood of being screened for colorectal cancer or receiving influenza vaccination

The report does highlight a few successes in addressing health disparities in the US, including the Vaccines for Children program (helping provide economically disadvantaged children access to vaccines) as well as healthcare access expansion via the Affordable Care Act.

There is an enormous amount of work to be done to address healthcare inequity in the US. The CDC is making strides in the right direction by producing comprehensive, actionable data to help identify at risk populations and target interventions. Hopefully we will continue to see these data monitored and reported on at regular intervals.

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