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J Natl Med Assoc. 2005 Jan;97(1):25-30.

Reducing and eliminating health disparities: a targeted approach.

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Center for the Study of Health Disparities, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, USA.


Health disparities have dominated recent discourse among public health and medical researchers. Ever since the United States began to compile health statistics, differences in health status have been noted between majority and non-majority populations. Myriad approaches have been undertaken in an attempt to reduce or eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in health. However, the disparities continue to persist. We are at a point in our history where innovative strategies must be explored that will be more effective in addressing racial and ethnic disparities in health. In large part, health disparities exist as a result of inequitable distribution of goods, resources, services and power in America. We have learned that improvements in health cannot come about solely through primary and secondary interventions but rather through an examination of the availability of resources that would allow individuals to improve their health. The goal of this paper is to provide an overview of the contextual factors that affect health disparities, to integrate theory to address disparities and to provide recommendations to encourage systematic changes to eliminate health disparities. It is hoped that this paper will bring about a national discussion relating to addressing the real issues we face in reducing and ultimately eliminating health disparities.

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