Apr 9 2014
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National Minority Health Awareness Month: Roundup of NewPublicHealth Coverage on Health Disparities

April is National Minority Health Awareness Month. A look back at NewPublicHealth’s coverage of health disparities so far this year shows significant steps being taken to both identify and rectify the public health problem. From understanding why certain demographics are at greater risk for cancer, to how income gaps and ethnicity can collide, to how racism can affect overall health, here’s a review of some of the key stories we’ve reported on health disparities in 2014.

Mistrust, Perceived Discrimination Affect Young Adult Latinos’ Satisfaction with Health Care
Mistrust of the medical community and perceived discrimination can affect how satisfied young adult Latinos are with their health care, which in turn can influence health outcomes, affect participation in health care programs under the Affordable Care Act and contribute to disparities in health care access.

Black, Latina Breast Cancer Patients More Likely to Struggle with Health Care-Related Debt
Black and Latina breast cancer patients are far more likely than their white counterparts to have medical debt as a result of treatment or to skip treatments due to costs

Faces of Public Health: Louis W. Sullivan, MD
Louis W. Sullivan, MD, former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services under President George H.W. Bush, recently wrote a memoir, Breaking Ground: My Life in Medicine, that offers a wide view of Sullivan’s experiences as a medical student in Boston, the founding dean of the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta and as the country’s chief health officer. NewPublicHealth recently sat down with Sullivan to discuss the book and his thoughts on the history and future of improving the nation’s health.

Study: Many Chronically Ill Adults Forced to Decide Between Medicine, Food
Chronically ill adults who, due to financial instability, lack consistent access to food are far more likely to underuse or even skip their medications completely, according to a new study in The American Journal of Medicine. Researchers analyzed data of 9,696 adults with chronic illness who participated in the National Health Interview Survey, finding that 23.4 percent reported cost-related medication underuse, while 18.8% percent reported food insecurity and 11 percent reported both. Hispanic and non-Hispanic blacks were at the highest risk.

Free to Be You and Me @ 40
Free to Be You and Me, a blockbuster hit album of the 70s and beyond, is still widely available on most music platforms. The television special, filled with skits on gender neutrality, is still a popular kids’ birthday gift, in part because many of the issues it speaks to—especially advancement opportunities and equality—are still being grappled with today.

Study: Men Die Earlier in More Patriarchal Societies
Gender differences when it comes to mortality rates are higher in more patriarchal societies, meaning women’s rights are good for men’s health.

Stress of Racism Tied to Obesity in Black Women
Frequent experiences of racism are associated with a higher risk of obesity among African-American women, according to a longitudinal study of approximately 59,000 African-American women who were tracked beginning in 1995. The study finds that the psychosocial stress associated with long-term experience with racism can result in dysregulation of neuroendocrine functions that influence the accumulation of excess body fat.

Survey Finds Majority of Hispanic Adults Are Not Confident in Their Understanding of Key Insurance Terms
While the majority of white, non-Hispanic adults feel confident in their understanding of key insurance terms, the same cannot be said for Hispanics. According to the Urban Institute’s Health Reform Monitoring Survey, only one in four Hispanic adults express confidence in their understanding of terms such as “premium,” “copayment” and “deductible.”

New Study Shows Latinos of Different Origins Can Have Different Diseases, Risk Factors
A review of a recent study, the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos that enrolled about 16,415 Hispanic/Latino adults, finds diversity among Latinos not only in ancestry, culture and economic status, but also in prevalence of certain diseases, risk factors and lifestyle habits.

Faces of Public Health: Nadine Gracia, HHS Office of Minority Health
Last year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released updated national Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health and Health Care to help health organizations improve care in diverse communities. NewPublicHealth recently spoke with Nadine Gracia, MD, MSCE, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health and Director of the HHS Office of Minority Health, about the updated standards and opportunities that efforts to increase health equity can bring to the health of individuals and communities.

NIH Study Seeks to Improve Asthma Therapy for African-Americans
A new study by researchers at the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, a division of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, is enrolling about 500 African-American children and adults with asthma in a multi-center clinical trial to assess how they react to therapies and to explore the role of genetics in determining the response to asthma treatment.

Faces of Public Health: Dennis Andrulis
In January 2008, the Texas Health Institute received support from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a policy think tank with a particular focus on people of color, to track progress on efforts to advance racial and health equity through provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Shortly after the ACA became law, new support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the California Endowment has led to a series of four reports that have assessed how well the law has been implemented in a way that addresses racial and ethnic health equity across five topic areas. NewPublicHealth recently talked with Dennis Andrulis, PhD, MPH, the Senior Research Scientist at the Texas Health Institute and an Associate Professor at the University of Texas School of Public Health.

Survey: Latinos See Diabetes as Greatest Family Health Concern
A new NPR/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/Harvard School of Public Health poll found that Latinos see diabetes as the biggest health concern for their families. Almost 19 percent of Latinos surveyed cited diabetes as the top worry, including across both immigrant (19 percent) and non-immigrant (22 percent) populations.

Racial Disparities in Deaths After Heart Bypass Surgery Linked to Hospital Quality
Racial disparities in the death risk after heart bypass surgery are linked to hospital quality, according to a new study. In hospitals with the highest rates of nonwhite patients, the death rate was 4.8 percent for nonwhite patients and 3.8 percent for white patients. The disparity is explained in part because nonwhite patients have less access to high-quality hospitals with lower death rates, as well as by factors such as regional variations in hospital quality, how close patients live to high-quality hospitals and race-based referral decisions.

Tags: Disparities, Health disparities, Primary care