Health Services

Health Disparities

What is a health disparity?

Differences in the presence of disease, health outcomes or access to health care between certain populations. The Office of Minority in Suffolk County and across the country deal with populations relating to racial and ethnic minorities.

Why do health disparities exist?
  • Barriers in healthcare access and delivery
    • Cultural or language barriers
      • Lack of interpretation services for non- English speaking patients
      • Low health literacy – unable to read or understand medical information
      • Many physicians are not skilled, familiar, or comfortable in communicating with people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds.
      • Socioeconomic
      • Difference in education and income
      • Differences in living environments
    • Health Literacy
      • The ability to read, understand and act on health information
      • The single best predictor of health status
        • ½ of the people in the United States are functionally or marginally illiterate
        • Most adults read on and 8th-9th grade reading level, however most health care materials are written at a 10th grade level or higher
      Provider racism and bias
      • Providers’ perceptions and attitudes toward patients are often influenced in subtle ways by patient race or ethnicity
      Other Barriers to Services and Treatment for minority populations include:
      • Mistrust and fear of treatment
      • Lack of availability of services\Cost
      • Differences in language and communication
      • Racism and discrimination
      • Fragmentation of services
      • Social stigma
What are some of the leading health disparities across the country and County?
HIV/AIDS
  • Nationally:
    • African Americans make up 13% of the total U.S. population, but they account for more than 50% of the HIV/AIDS cases.
    • American Indians/Alaska Natives have a 40% higher AIDS rate than non-Hispanic white counterparts.
    • Asian/Pacific Islanders have lower AIDS rates than non- Hispanic white counterparts and they are less likely to die of HIV/AIDS.
    • Hispanics/Latinos account for more than 15% of HIV/AIDS cases.
  • Suffolk County:
    • African Americans are 17 times more likely to die from AIDS than Whites.
    • Hispanics are 5 times more likely to die from AIDS than Whites.
Cancer
  • Nationally:
    • African American men were 1.5 times more likely to have new cases of lung and prostate cancer, compared to non-Hispanic white men. African American women were 2.6 times as likely to have been diagnosed with stomach cancer, and they were 2.3 times more likely to die from stomach cancer, compared to non-Hispanic white women.
    • American Indians/Alaska Native men have a 30% higher chance of being diagnosed with stomach and liver cancer than white men.
    • American Indian women were 1.9 times as likely to die from cervical cancer compared to white women.
    • Asian/Pacific Islander men and women have higher incidence and mortality rates for stomach and liver cancer.
    • Hispanic men and women have higher incidence rates for stomach and liver cancer. Hispanic women were 2.2 times more likely as non-Hispanic white women.
  • Suffolk County
    • African Americans are more likely to die from cancer. African American men are 1.5 times more likely to be diagnosed and 3 times more likely to die from prostate cancer than whites.

Cardiovascular disease ( Heart Attack, Strokes)

  • Nationally:
    • African Americans were 1.5 times as likely as non-Hispanic whites to have high blood pressure. African American men are more likely to die from heart disease, as compared to non-Hispanic men. African American women are 1.6 times as likely as non-Hispanic whites to be obese.
    • American Indians/Alaska Native adults were 2.3 times as likely as white adults to be diagnosed with diabetes and are 1.6 times more likely to have high blood pressure.
    • Asian/Pacific Islander adults are less likely than white adults to have heart disease and they are less likely to die from heart disease compared to non-Hispanic whites.
    • In 2003, Hispanics were 20% less likely to have heart disease, as compared to non-Hispanic whites.

Heart Disease is the leading cause of death for everyone in Suffolk County.

Diabetes
  • Nationally:
    • African American adults were 2.4 times more likely than non-Hispanic white adults to have been diagnosed with diabetes. In 2002, diabetic African Americans were 1.5 times as likely as diabetic whites to be hospitalized.
    • American Indians/ Alaska Native adults are 1.2 times as likely as white adults to be diagnosed with diabetes and in 2002 were 1.9 times as likely as non-Hispanic whites to die from diabetes.
    • Hispanics were 20% less likely to die from heart disease as compared to non-Hispanic whites in 2001.
  • Suffolk County:
    • African Americans are 1.8 times more likely to die from diabetes than whites.
    • Hispanics are at a high risk for disease and death.
Infant Mortality
  • The infant mortality rate for African American infants was more than double the rate for white infants. American Indian/ Alaska Natives have 1.5 times higher infant mortality rate than whites. Puerto Rican infants were 2.2 times more likely to die from causes related to low birth weight, compared to white infants.
Immunization
  • Only 50% of older African Americans and Hispanics received the Influenza "flu" vaccination.
  • Only a little over a third (30%) of African Americans and Hispanics received the Pneumococcal "pneumonia" shot.
What can be done to minimize health disparities?
  • Improve access to quality care that is culturally competent.
  • Increase Workforce Diversity in Health
  • Empower communities with information to help improve access.