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Trans Am Clin Climatol Assoc. 2012;123:167-72; discussion 172-4.

Health disparities: gaps in access, quality and affordability of medical care.

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Meharry Medical College, 1005 Dr. DB Todd Jr Blvd, Nashville, TN 37027, USA.


Health disparities, which are sometimes referred to as health inequities, have garnered an increasing amount of attention from physicians and health policy experts, as well as a renewed focus from federal health agencies. As a complex and multi-factorial construct, differential access to medical care, treatment modalities, and disparate outcomes among various racial and ethnic groups has been validated in numerous studies. The antecedents of such differences involve such "drivers" as cost and access to the healthcare system, primary care physicians, and preventive health services. In addition, the subtle role of bias in creating and/or exacerbating health disparities is well documented in the literature. This article highlights the dimensions and extent of health inequities and emphasizes the challenges facing physicians and others in addressing them.

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