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Health Aff (Millwood). 2005 Mar-Apr;24(2):335-8.

Policy challenges in addressing racial disparities and improving population health.

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  • 1Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research.


Socioeconomic status fundamentally affects most health and disease outcomes, but black Americans are doubly disadvantaged by low status, discrimination, and residential segregation. Improving health and removing disparities are essential goals, but some efforts that improve the health of blacks in important ways also increase black-white disparity ratios. People with more information, influence, resources, and social networks may be better able to take advantage of new technologies and scientific developments, initially increasing disparities. Better health and reduced mortality should be the key policy criteria, but these criteria should be linked with consideration of careful targeting to level the playing field and close disparities.

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