Health Disparities: Nursing Role


Health disparities refer to differences established within a given population that lead to dissimilar exposure and prevalence to diseases. These variations may directly or indirectly lead to disparities in mortality and tolerance of common illnesses. As such, some disproportions exist within populations which may result in different health outcomes (Trust for America’s Health, 2011). For instance, health disparities in many countries are mainly contributed by factors such as ethnicity, race, gender, genetics, socio-economic status, and disabilities. These disparities are experienced when individuals do not receive equal attention in terms of health care. Research done indicates that health status varies from one community or state to another. Moreover, these disparities can be fatal to public health especially when people lack adequate healthcare services and facilities. People with low income from minor races are highly vulnerable to disparities in healthcare since they lack access to better quality health care services (Trust for America’s Health, 2011).

Summary of population studies and findings

According to the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), efforts have been put in place to reduce health disparities (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2004). A recent report released from empirical research carried out on health purposed to identify disparities, their health outcomes, and measures that need to be taken in response to health problems in the United States. It is vivid from the report released by health researchers that aspects of gender, race, and income, are major determinants of health status among U.S citizens. For this case, data obtained revealed that such disparities extremely contributed to ill-health and premature deaths among affected patients. Statistics illustrate that people with low income have lower life expectancy than those with higher income. Additionally, males are more likely to commit suicide and pre-mature deaths compared to females. It is important to note that black and Hispanic races have higher fertility rates hence higher birth rates as opposed to other races in America (US News and World Health Report, 2011).

Findings on health disparities released way back in 2007 released men are more likely to perish in road accidents than women (US News and World Health Report, 2011). In the same year, it was discovered that whites were more vulnerable to drug abuse resulting in more deaths, unlike other races. In line with this, blacks were highly likely to develop high blood pressure than whites unlike in the case of Mexican Americans. In connection with this, social-economic status was accountable for rising cases of high blood pressure. In line with this, low-income earners were said to be hospitalized quite often since they delayed seeking medical attention in good time once they were diagnosed with specific illnesses (US News and World Health Report, 2011).

The reasons for the health disparity

Over and above differences in age, income, gender, race, and ethnicity, further investigation was conducted to examine other factors that may accelerate health disparities. Recent health reports indicate that there are more possible reasons for the increased disparity in the United States alone (US News and World Health Report, 2011). Observations made at the individual level revealed that some patients seek fewer medical services out of their personal choice. Apparently, the majority of people in North America have been hit by recession resulting in financial hardships. This has resulted in less percentage of the population getting access to health care services. It’s definite that individuals with disabilities increase dependency rate to the working class in the state (Trust for America’s Health, 2011). This triggers more pressure especially among low-income earners making them neglect to seek some health services. Besides, people of low socioeconomic status tend to drink, smoke, take less healthy diet and have lesser time to exercise making them more susceptible to ailments (US News and World Health Report, 2011).

Strategies for improving healthcare

Nevertheless, the U.S government has strategized ways of reducing health disparities from the local, state to the federal level. In this case, efforts have been made to eliminate barriers affecting health amenities such as education, cultural competence, and language (Trust for America’s Health, 2011). This will ensure that all health resources are available for all regardless of age, color, sex, or economic rank. Moreover, some complex relationship has been established among health and health determinants to improve and influence the population’s health. Such determinants include proper nutrition, decent housing, health insurance, sanitation, and improved health services (US News and World Health Report, 2011). The United States government has expanded medical coverage to minor races thereby lowering cases of health disparity among those individuals with low income. Needless to say, the health care workforce and cultural competence in pieces of training have worked towards improving national health. The establishment of community health centers that are multiracial has facilitated an increase in primary health care and prevention services replicating the number of individuals accessing the services daily in America (US News and World Health Report, 2011). On the other hand, these strategies have been proved successful in a country like Canada. Positive impacts have been noted in previous years since the disparity rate in the health sector has been decimated at an alarming rate.

Nursing Roles

Meanwhile, nurses in the United States have played a major role in eliminating health disparities. Nursing services are central in ensuring that individuals’ health is protected at all times (Gloria, 2011). Through evidence-based practice in nursing, it is possible to establish a firm relationship between healthcare delivery and health determinants. In this case, nurses may offer advice to patients on how to lead healthy lifestyles free from ailments. The provision of nurse-managed care to patients makes an impact toward changing a community and national policies towards the need for impartiality and fortification of health. Moreover, nurses foster self-management of individual health among citizens. They also act as clinical reminders on health issues ensuring continuous quality improvement of health life (Gloria (2011).

To recap it all, it is profound to note that health disparities are perilous in any given population. At all costs, there is a need to minimize these disparities and enhance impartiality when discharging health services. Better still, healthcare should be made available to the entire population regardless of individual differences such as race, age, and gender.


Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. (2004). National Healthcare Disparities Report: Summary. Web.

Gloria, S. (2011). Health Disparities: What can Nursing Do? Web.

Trust for America’s Health. (2011). Health Disparities. Web.

US News and World Health Report. (2011) Health Disparities in US: Report Shows. Web.

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