Module 1: Health Disparities
What is a health disparity?
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Learn more about health disparities and underserved groups: Introduction to Chronic Disease: Impact & Risk Factors
Patient navigation began as an effort to reduce health disparities. Learn more in: Navigation & the Healthcare System Course
A health disparity is a difference in health between groups. For example, people in low-income groups have more obesity than those in higher income groups. Health disparities can be affected by characteristics of a group such as:
- Sex (male/female)
- Race or ethnicity
- Gender, sexual orientation
- Geographic location
- Disability or special healthcare need
What is an underserved group?
There are different reasons people can be considered underserved. Underserved people may be:
- Uninsured or underinsured
- Racial or ethnic minorities
- Geographically isolated or living in a place with few doctors or clinics
Underserved groups have major barriers to getting healthcare. For example, when people have lower income or do not have health insurance they often avoid preventive healthcare services such as health screening, regular check-ups, prescription drugs, mental health or dental care. Barriers to healthcare are a problem because when diseases are not found early, they may get worse and make treatment more difficult.