Diversity in Health Research
Table of Contents
Health disparities exist among the population. It is something that has attracted the interest of many health stakeholders. A health discrepancy is related to the frequency of a particular disease to a group, individuals getting sick, and the periodicity to which the illness causes death. This diversity refers to the differences in incidence and prevalence, mortality, and the burden of the particular sickness as well as other adverse health conditions existing among given people. This paper investigates the health discrepancy between African American and white American women and their newborn low birth weight. In doing this, the solutions to minimize the gap will be addressed.
People in various geographical locations are affected by health disparities in different ways. The statistics of the Healthy People 2020 says that several US population groups suffer from this (“Disparities,” 2014). Over 100 million belonged to an ethnic or racial minority in 2008 within the country. Out of the entire population, 154 million were women; and 36 million were not living at nursing homes and other residential care facilities. However, they had some disabilities. 233.5 million of people had lived in the urban areas, while the mere part as 70.5 million were rural dwellers. Looking at these statistical findings, health disparity prevalence varies depending on many factors. The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) (2013) asserts that these discrepancies result from different reasons including environmental threats, poverty, educational inequalities, and inadequate access to health care. Conversely, race is crucial in explaining population variations.
Low Birth Weight
Low birth weight poses a gap between the African American and white American infants. Colen, Geronimus, Bound, and James (2006) acknowledge that preterm births are one of leading causes of this issue. In 2004, there was a significant disparity between African Americans’ preterms compared to the white Americans containing approximately 6.5%. In 2009, there was a higher rate of low birth rate. The children of African American women had the level of 13.6% (Colen et al., 2006). This figure is approximately twice than that of the white American newborns having 6.9%. It reveals the health disparity between the two races.
Health Coverage and Income
There are several cases in the US showing health disparity between the races in the discussion. One of them involves a woman who has failed to access quality health care services because of her inability to pay for expensive accommodation. Sontag (2008) has reported an incident in The New York Times. An African American woman known as Trina had worked in a pizza place for a minimum wage since she was pregnant. Unfortunately, she did not have a health cover for accessing medical services. On visiting a hospital, it demanded an upfront of $100 that forced her out since her wage was not enough for this. However, she sought for billing of the accommodation, which she could settle later once she could get substantial funds. In getting back to the health facility with pregnancy-related complaints, the hospital staff stringently refused to attend to her since she had a previously unsettled bill. It was sad in her case.
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On realizing that she couldn’t access the services, she later opted for another local hospital. Health care workers ordered her to stop laboring and leave for home with the frequent visits to the local health facility. This occurrence resulted in an emergency for which they flew her to the medical institution in Columbus. There she succumbed after 15 days. The evaluation of the case revealed that Trina had a misdiagnosis in that hospital. Additionally, the local medical institution was small with no equipment to provide care in regards to her diagnosis. Her family claimed that if she had a good insurance and funds, the initial hospital could have taken good treatment of her with no possible deaths.
In spite of this being a single incidence which does not compare with the white American women regarding low birth weight, it reveals a health disparity. The research establishes that most African Americans have prenatal conditions compared to their white US counterparts (Colen et al., 2006). Except the case of intrauterine fetal death, women from the same race have many pregnancy-related conditions, in which preterm and low birth weight are both a part. The case shows some discrepancies in the accessibility of health care services between the poor and the rich. In case Trina had a decent salary, she could have afforded to pay the amount of $100 needed by the first hospital. Various studies acknowledge that the African Americans earn wages lower than the whites (Colen et al., 2006). Therefore, the latter ones are likely to afford and gain access to health care services even if they are not insured.
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The difference in salary figures for the two races is seen in their poverty rates and the level of insurance. From 2007-2011, national poverty rates for the African Americans were 25.8% while that for the whites was 11.6% (Macartney, Bishaw, & Fontenot, 2013). Trina’s salary contributed to the lack of health coverage. Colen et al. (2006) identify that the vast majority of the woman’s race is poorer than the white Americans, which presumably reduces the chances of getting health insurance coverage. If Trina had insurance, she could have received the care needed. Therefore, health disparity between the two races in newborns is brought about by the inadequate accessibility to health care due to poverty and low wages.
There are multiple risk factors for low birth weight in the US, just like any other nation in the world. They include cigarette smoking during pregnancy, infectious diseases, and lifestyle-related illnesses (CDC, 2013). The poor health is associated with poverty. Poverty often makes individuals vulnerable to preventable health conditions of which low birth weight is a part (Macartney et al., 2013). The poor ones often lack the information, financial resources, and access to health services being a key to preventing and treating diseases. Therefore, economic status among subgroups presents health disparities. It follows that the white Americans exposed to poorness in childhood are likely to give birth to low birth weight newborns. However, an increase in income has a positive influence on the reduction low birth weight babies (Colen et al., 2006). It is suggestive that poverty is a contributory factor for this issue. Since African Americans are poorer than their white counterparts, it is rational to conclude that poverty results in health disparity between the two races.
Solutions to this problem range from improving and increasing access to perinatal care to reducing poverty among the black Americans. In its course in addressing health disparities, the CDC’s first aim is to appreciate the problem (Centre for Disease Control, 2013). They identify that black American infants are dying nearly twice the rate at which the whites are. It is the reason that is being the low birth weight. As a result, its efforts are directed towards minimizing the conditions leading to increased infant mortality by incorporating government efforts as well. Some of the states CDC gives a priority are the ones with more newborn death levels such as the southern US inhabited by most blacks.
One of the solutions is to enhance an access of pregnant African American women to quality health care services in time. The CDC (2013) says that the prevention of the infant deaths by addressing health concerns from the period of preconception will work a great deal. It has created public awareness on the effects of smoking to an unborn child. The reason is that it is a leading factor causing low birth weight. Furthermore, this agency has set a goal of reducing preterm births that often results in delivery of low birth weight babies. Reducing this problem through ensuring pregnant mothers a proper access to health services is a meaningful solution to this health disparity.
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Through the CDC grand round, the government has been drawn into the struggle to reduce this discrepancy. The CDC (2013) identifies that it bore fruits with an annual infant mortality reduction of 3% from 6.75-6.05 per 1000 live births between 2007 and 2011. Its sole responsibility was advising the US Health Secretary on policies and resources required in reducing newborn death rates. It aimed at improving preconception and quality perinatal care for all women irrespectively of their race or socioeconomic status. The government’s efforts to fight poverty and increase insurance coverage among the poor will benefit all Americans whether black or white. For this reason, black women are assured of quality care just like the whites. The solution should be created that will help eliminate health disparities.
In conclusion, there is a marked health discrepancy between the African American women and their white counterparts’ with their newborn low birth weight. The black females register a higher rate of this issue than the whites. Several cases show disparity such as Trina’s life episode. Poverty and lack of health insurance leading to inaccessibility of quality health care for most of the black American women contribute to the discrepancy. However, there are multiple solutions to this challenge. The CDC in conjunction with the US government is working hard to provide some ways out. Its efforts are aimed at reducing infant mortalities by preventing low birth weights. Moreover, the government is working hard to complement the CDC’s efforts by fighting poverty and increasing accessibility to quality health care through enhancing the insurance for all. All these efforts are likely to bear fruits since they are applied to everybody regardless of race, socioeconomic or political status.