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The impact of disasters on populations with health and health care disparities.

Author information

1
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina 29208, USA. davisjr6@gmail.com

Abstract

CONTEXT:

A disaster is indiscriminate in whom it affects. Limited research has shown that the poor and medically underserved, especially in rural areas, bear an inequitable amount of the burden.

OBJECTIVE:

To review the literature on the combined effects of a disaster and living in an area with existing health or health care disparities on a community's health, access to health resources, and quality of life.

METHODS:

We performed a systematic literature review using the following search terms: disaster, health disparities, health care disparities, medically underserved, and rural. Our inclusion criteria were peer-reviewed, US studies that discussed the delayed or persistent health effects of disasters in medically underserved areas.

RESULTS:

There has been extensive research published on disasters, health disparities, health care disparities, and medically underserved populations individually, but not collectively.

CONCLUSIONS:

The current literature does not capture the strain of health and health care disparities before and after a disaster in medically underserved communities. Future disaster studies and policies should account for differences in health profiles and access to care before and after a disaster.

Comment in

PMID:
20389193
PMCID:
PMC2875675
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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