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Annu Rev Public Health. 2012 Apr;33:7-40. doi: 10.1146/annurev-publhealth-031811-124658. Epub 2012 Jan 6.

Health inequalities: trends, progress, and policy.

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1
Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA. sbleich@jhsph.edu

Abstract

Health inequalities, which have been well documented for decades, have more recently become policy targets in developed countries. This review describes time trends in health inequalities (by sex, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status), commitments to reduce health inequalities, and progress made to eliminate health inequalities in the United States, United Kingdom, and other OECD countries. Time-trend data in the United States indicate a narrowing of the gap between the best- and worst-off groups in some health indicators, such as life expectancy, but a widening of the gap in others, such as diabetes prevalence. Similarly, time-trend data in the United Kingdom indicate a narrowing of the gap between the best- and worst-off groups in some indicators, such as hypertension prevalence, whereas the gap between social classes has increased for life expectancy. More research and better methods are needed to measure precisely the relationships between stated policy goals and observed trends in health inequalities.

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