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Health Disparity

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Submitted By Ajeshkjose
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African Americans including those of more than one race constitute 15.2% of the U.S

population. (CDC, 2011) The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) conducted in 2012 reports that

white (38%) and Asians (37%) are more likely to be in excellent health than African

Americans (31%). (NHIS) 14.6% of blacks of all ages reported of poor or fair health which

is higher than the general population.37.9% of African American men and 57.6% of

women above the age of 20 are obese.39.9% of men and 44.5% of women above 20 of

African American origin have hypertension.17.8% of African American people under 65

does not have health insurance.(CDC,2011) Leading causes of death among African Americans are

heart disease, cancer and stroke. Obesity and diabetes are twice as prevalent among

Africans compared to white adults. They have the largest death rates from homicides

compared to any racial or ethnic population.(CDC,2011) African Americans also have the highest

incidence and death rates from colorectal cancer and HIV infection rates. Prescribed HIV

treatment among African Americans living with HIV is also less compared to white

adults.(CDC,2011) A larger percent of African American adults live in poverty and does not have a

high school education compared to the general population. All of this data points toward

poor health status among African Americans. Studies have shown that African Americans underutilize

preventive care services which includes pap smears, mammograms, clinical breast examinations and fecal

blood occult testing. In a study where levels of education, income and insurance coverage were

controlled, the differences in utilization of preventive services were not significant. (Gordon 2011)

Many of the chronic diseases that are prevalent among African Americans results from life style and

behavior choices like poor diet and smoking. While there are many programs available for African

Americans they are less less likely to use preventive care. Some of the factors that have direct impact on

health promotion and disease prevention are socio economic status, insurance status and alienation from

government. (Nickens WH). Socioeconomic status depends on occupation, income and educational

attainment. The status of African Americans is lower than the rest of the population on all these

Indices. Education has shown to be a key factor that influences high-risk behavior (Nickens

HW) Socioeconomic status of African Americans are lower compared to rest of the

population. Socioeconomic status is a powerful variable that influence health status of any group or

community. Research confirm that Persons with low income and education experience increased rates of

mortality, morbidity, risk-taking behaviors and decreased access to quality health care. Higher

unemployment rates among African Americans means that fewer of them have

medical insurance, which prevents them from seeking preventive and early medical care. Alienation from

government refers to the minority community’s mistrust of the government. (Nickens, WH). Masculine

prejudice, peer influences and religious beliefs also act as barriers to seeking preventive care among

African Americans. (Minority nurse, 2013) Primary preventive efforts like health fairs and screening for

hypertension, cholesterol and diabetes can be organized in the community. The black church is an

influential institution in black communities. (Airhihenbuwa, CO et al, 2006) Faith based groups in the

community can be effective in organizing health fairs and screenings. They can also help spread health messages about high fat diet or smoking or substance abuse.

Secondary preventive services involve early detection and treatment of the disease. Lack of insurance

coverage among many African Americans prevents them from getting secondary prevention

interventions like colonoscopies, mammograms, papsmears etc. with the Affordable Care act these

services will be available and accessible to many African Americans who didn’t have access to them.

Tertiary prevention involves treatment of the disease or interventions to prevent complications from the

disease. It may include dietary and physical activity interventions to maintain blood sugar levels or

rehabilitation after a stroke to maximize functional potential. Community based interventions using

motivational techniques grounded in spiritual church based framework has proved to be successful in

reducing morbidity from obesity. (IOM)The sisters together program that promotes good eating and

exercise habits among African women and their families would be an example of one such intervention.

(IOM) Strong kinship bonds and religious orientations are the strengths of African American families

(IOM) and needs to be utilized in planning interventions aimed at improving the health of African


African Americans face many health challenges compared to the general population. Hypertension,

obesity, diabetes, and stroke are more common among African Americans. They face other challenges

like poor socioeconomic status and lower education. Improved health outcomes in African Americans can

only result from changes in social economic and political systems. While planning interventions to

improve African American health the strengths of the community should be considered. Community and

neighborhood based approaches allow the people of the community to develop strategies that are

culturally acceptable and relevant. This approach focuses on the strengths of the community and is

suitable to address the needs of children youth adults and the elderly.


Health Promotion and the African American Community,2013.Retrieved from

Gordon et al. Health and Healthcare of African American Elders. Retrieved from

0Integrative%20Medicine%20and%20the%20Health%20of%20the%20Public.pdf -the-african-american-community-2

Nickens HW.Health Promotion and Disease prevention Among Minorities. Retrieved from

The strengths and challenges facing African Americans. Retrieved


e%20Integrative%20Medicine%20and%20the%20Health%20of%20the%20Public.pdf affordable Care Act and African Americans. Retrieved from

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