Health Disparities & Unconscious Bias

Health Disparities & Unconscious Bias

The Institute of Medicine defines The Ecological Model as “a model of health that emphasizes the linkages and relationships among multiple factors (or determinants) affecting health.” Within this model, there are several different levels: social, community, institutional, interpersonal, and individual.

When looking deeper into the health care system, it is evident that health disparities exist. One example of a health care disparity is that low-income individuals receive poorer quality care and experience worse health outcomes. This fits into the Social Ecological Model because initially, an individual experiences poor care or even has an outcome as severe as death. After this happens, it spreads to the interpersonal level where the family of the individual is experiencing similar outcomes. It goes a step further when it is seen in the institutional level.

Sadly, this disparity exists against the socio-economically challenged because in our society those who have the most generally do not need the most. Furthermore, society may view those who are not very wealthy as less important and in result, the disparity is formed.

There are many interventions that can be/are done to help reduce the magnitude of health disparities against the socio-economically challenged. One is the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) which started an initiative called “Finding Answers: Disparities Research for Change to encourage, evaluate, and disseminate new interventions to reduce disparities” (www.solvingdisparities.org). RWJF acts on the community/social level of the SEM and it is now in its fourth year.

2 thoughts on “Health Disparities & Unconscious Bias

  1. In a different class, we talked about the many disparities among lower income people, one of which was health care. Due to the fact that their incomes are so low, they are forced to leave in poor neighborhoods. As a result, many of the healthcare facilities don’t have as much funding as a healthcare facility in a well-to-do neighborhood. Because of a lack of funding, these places usually don’t have the most current diagnosis machines or access to certain kinds of care. These can often make doctors visits longer which makes it much harder for these people to go receive help because they just don’t have the time. It is definitely an unfair disparity considering lower income people deserve equal health just like everyone else.

  2. The ACA as we know took a big step to cover more people who were uninsured. However, access to care is not enough to solve the problems our health system has. Access to high-quality care is the key. Like you have mentioned, it is sad but true that disparities exist in our society. When I examined the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that you shared with us, I learned that this foundation is working on finding solutions rather than just documenting disparities. They focus on three main pillars which are promote equity, implement change, and teach others. They also developed a “roadmap” to show providers and patients how quality care for all patients can be achieved. I found RWJF to be very beneficial and if healthcare providers work together to follow the roadmap the foundation has developed I think it would seriously benefit our society.

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