Social and Behavioral Issues in Public Health

Topics: Race and Ethnicity, Health care, Health disparities Pages: 6 (1255 words) Published: November 20, 2014
Jessica Blain
November 5th 2014
Response Paper #3

“Race And Class” or “Race Or Class”?

With American being known at the “melting pot” of the world, is it actually possible to have that all societies, communities, ethnic groups be looked upon as equal without racism? Since there are currently so many different health disparities and issues throughout each community in the United States, there must be some factors that have unknowingly been neglected when creating different policies order to increase everyones overall well-being (especially those with lower qualities of life). On a national scale, black Americans and white Americans generally have very different health disparities. This could be contributed by many different factors, like for example, the place in which individuals live, whether it is the actual built environment or the socioeconomic environment. For example, in an low-income community, there may be less housing available and what is available may subject the individuals to increased exposure to health risks.

In the study performed by T. LaVeist, et al. (2011), Place, Not Race: Disparities Dissipate In Southwest Baltimore When Black and Whites Live Under Same Conditions, the authors sought out to learn if the racial health disparities that are reported in nationally still remain when black and white Americans live in integrated settings. This study was performed in Southwest Baltimore, Maryland, where both black and white Americans lived in the same socieconomical, social, and environmental conditions. The participants that participated had about the same statistics (35% black males, 35% white males, medium income of .85 and 1.15 between both races, and high school graduation rates between .85 and 1.15). Data was collected on nationally significant reported health disparities of hypertension, diabetes, obesity among women, smoking and use of health care services. When compared to national data, almost all of the disparities either vanished or substantially narrowed. Racial differences may be a partial cause of the disparities that are generally found in national data.

According to the results on this study, when social factors were equalized, racial disparities were drastically minimized. So this raises the question, “is the reason for health issues based on the ethnic race (black, white, hispanic, etc) in the community or is it the place (built or economical environments) that the race(s) are living in?”. Many may assume health disparities are linked to the minority/race and they also live in low-income communities. Instead, society needs to take a different approach and realize that it could be the lack of resources (accessibility to healthy foods, health services, and recreational activities) along with the mental stress that is put on a person who is living in an low-income setting could be the reasons for poor health among different races.

America, the “melting pot” isn’t as melted as some may picture it to be. While occupied by numerous different ethnic groups, economical statues, cultures, etc, there are still very large gaps on the “financial ladder” that everyone is so desperately trying to climb. With that being said, this study was limited because it does not represent society on a whole, but it is interesting to see the outcome of the study and how the results differed from the data collected nationally. For example, according to data from the National Heath Interview Survey on smoking, there is no significant difference in smoking status or in the amount of cigarettes smoked a day when compared racially (between black and white Americans). According to the American Lung Association, “Prevalence of current smoking in 2009 was highest among non-Hispanic whites (22.2%) intermediate among non-Hispanic blacks (21.3%), and lowest among Hispanics (14.5%) and Asians (12.0%)”(American Lung Association, 2014). But in Southwest Baltimore, there was a broad difference between...
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