The MCAT CARS Strategy Course begins January 28! Enroll

The MCAT CARS Strategy Course begins January 28!
Enroll

MCAT Content / Health Disparities / Health Disparities

Health Disparities

Topic: Health Disparities

Social determinants like class, gender, and race or ethnicity can greatly impact health outcomes in specific risk population.

The United States is considered to be one of the worlds’ more developed nations, with many opportunities for its citizens. However, unlike many other high-income countries, it is severely lacking in health care for all. Instead, there is a clear difference in preventative and tertiary care in people from different socioeconomic statuses (SES). SES is the sociologic and economic circumstances that can affect a person’s way of life. This can include income, education, class, and access to resources. People who were raised with higher SES usually have more care services and, as a result, will experience a life of better health.

Education is a big marker for certain health habits of people. For example, high school dropouts are 3.7 times more likely to smoke and 4.9 times more likely to not exercise than college graduates (Pampel et al., 2011). In addition, these same trends of unhealthy habits are seen in people who rent rather than own their home and for people who are unemployed, people from higher SES are given the education they need to learn about the importance of engaging in healthy habits and avoiding those that can cause them harm. In addition, they have the economic advantage of having the money to attend higher level education that allows them to afford the ever increasing costs of healthcare. Also, it is increasingly more difficult for people with SES to receive the primary care they need. To better serve the people in this country, public health leaders and other officials should focus on ways to reduce the gap between the different statuses.

Differences in health outcomes and disparities can also be affected by a person’s gender. In most countries, women tend to have a longer life expectancy than men. Factors that contribute to this difference can be biological, environmental, and cultural. All of these factors combine to create differences in gender behaviors. In developed countries like the United States, risky unhealthy behaviors are a major factor that contribute to the lessened life expectancy in men. Men tend to have higher rates of smoking, drinking, gun use, hazardous occupations, and are more likely to participate in potentially dangerous behaviors (Yin, 2007). Testosterone in men has been shown to influence physical activity and aggressiveness which can lead to higher death rates from injuries, accidents, and homicides (Yin, 2007). Even though women have lower mortality rates and are less likely to engage in risky behaviors than men, they still see many physical and mental health inequalities (Sagynbekov, 2017). Women often are shown to have higher rates of pain and respiratory conditions that are not related to smoking, and are more likely to suffer from reproductive cancers and depression (Yin, 2007).

Societal and cultural differences in men and women contribute to differences in life expectancy and health outcomes. Men are more likely than women to have jobs in the labor force, which can come with physical hazards that impact how quickly their health declines. As societal and cultural differences in men and women continue to decrease, women will become increasingly exposed to similar rates of risky health behaviors as men (Yin, 2007). Overall, women tend to rate their health worse and visit hospitals more frequently than men from an early age on, however, they are less likely to die (Yin, 2007). Smoking-related conditions significantly affect males more than females. In two years, men with smoking-related conditions are significantly more likely to die than women with the same conditions (Yin, 2007). Men who are diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, bronchitis, and respiratory cancer have higher mortality rates than women who are exposed to the same diseases, which implies that men may experience more serious forms of these same conditions (Yin, 2007). Addressing the factors that contribute to health disparities in gender is important in providing effective interventions specific to the needs of each group.

Racial and ethnic inequality refers to advantages and disadvantages that different groups face and how these socially constructed categories have an impact on individuals. Health disparities are differences that exist among different populations and they can have an effect on the health potential of individuals. Racial and ethnic disparities in health care contribute to higher morbidity and mortality rates in these groups. Health disparities can be linked to social, economic, and environmental disadvantages that are implemented by the conditions that surround us (A Nation Free of Disparities in Health and Healthcare, 2018). One of the most prominent chronic diseases in the United States, cardiovascular disease, accounts for the largest proportion of inequality in life expectancy between African Americans and non-Hispanic Whites, also affecting rates of diabetes (A Nation Free of Disparities in Health and Healthcare, 2018). Examining and addressing these health disparities at the national level is vital in reducing them. An underlying cause of disparities are socioeconomic policies, health access, and lack of health education issues among minority groups that Caucasian individuals are as likely to encounter.


Practice Questions


Khan Academy

MCAT Official Prep (AAMC)

Online Flashcards Sociology Question 2

Online Flashcards Sociology Question 25

Practice Exam 2 P/S Section Passage 3 Question 15

Practice Exam 2 P/S Section Passage 3 Question 16


Key Points

• Race, social status and gender are all determining factors in personal health and can have large impacts on their wellbeing over time.

• There is a clear difference in preventative and tertiary care in people from different socioeconomic statuses (SES). People from higher SES usually have more care services and, as a result, will experience a life of better health.

• Differences in health outcomes and disparities can also be affected by a person’s gender. In most countries, women tend to have a longer life expectancy than men.

• Racial and ethnic disparities in health care contribute to higher morbidity and mortality rates in these groups.


Key Terms

Socioeconomic status: The social standing or class of an individual or group. It is often measured as a combination of education, income, and occupation.

Race: A grouping of humans based on shared physical or social qualities into categories generally viewed as distinct by society.

Ethnicity: The fact or state of belonging to a social group that has a common national or cultural tradition.



Billing Information
We had trouble validating your card. It's possible your card provider is preventing us from charging the card. Please contact your card provider or customer support.
{{ cardForm.errors.get('number') }}
{{ registerForm.errors.get('zip') }}
{{ registerForm.errors.get('coupon') }}
Tax: {{ taxAmount(selectedPlan) | currency spark.currencySymbol }}

Total Price Including Tax: {{ priceWithTax(selectedPlan) | currency spark.currencySymbol }} / {{ selectedPlan.interval | capitalize }}