Hi, my name is Morgan Hill and I have no idea what a health disparity is, and the SEM confuses me. If you are in the same boat I was before I wrote this post, this may be the post for you.
So, first off, what the heck is a health disparity? It is basically the difference in the health of different groups. The groups could be based on race, ethnicity, economic status, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Some examples of health disparities are: minorities are more susceptible to heart disease and women are more susceptible to breast cancer. Of course, there are hundreds of other health disparities.
What is the SEM, and what could it possibly have to do with health disparities? SEM stands for social- ecological model, and consists of 5 different levels. These levels include:
- intrapersonal factors (individual characteristics)
- interpersonal factors (people around you who may influence you)
- organizational factors (organizations that promote behaviors)
- community factors (community norms)
- public policy (laws that regulate behaviors)
These levels can all contribute to how at-risk an individual/ group is to medical conditions which creates and continues health disparities.
Hopefully you understand health disparities and SEM a little better, now let’s put our knowledge to the test.
According to the CDC, infant mortality is higher in black children than any other race. Compared to white babies, black babies are almost three times more likely to die in its first year of life. This is a very shocking health disparity that really makes me think, what could possibly contribute to such a large difference in the death of babies. So, let’s think of this in terms of the SEM. On an intrapersonal level, black women have less knowledge about what exactly contributes to infant mortality and what a healthy pregnancy consists of, which includes eating healthy, exercise, and vitamins. This means, black women are less likely to make healthy choices like eating healthy and exercising during pregnancy. On an interpersonal level, black women are more likely to live in stressful environments which contributes to infant mortality. There is even a study which proves that black women are more prone to stress because of the racism that blacks are subjected to. On an organizational level, black women have less exposure to healthy food and vitamins, as well as good health care insurance. On a community level, there could be different beliefs about what a healthy pregnancy really means. Finally, on a public policy level, there are no laws that regulate the health of pregnant women.
The greatest intervention that could really help black women would be to educate them on this specific health disparity and ways to have a healthy pregnancy, which impacts the intrapersonal level. This could lead to black women eating healthier, exercising, taking vitamins, and eliminating stress during their pregnancies.
As I stated above, racism has had an impact on the stress levels of black women which contributes to infant mortality. Do you know of any other specific examples where racism has affected the health of a racial group, other than the quality of a doctor’s work?
Hopefully, my little blog post helped you understand health disparities and the SEM. Let me know you feel about the above health disparity, and if this post helped you understand this week’s topic.
Thanks for reading!