Introduction to Occupational Health Disparities

Introduction to Occupational Health Disparities

 A “health disparity” refers to a higher burden of illness, injury, disability, or mortality experienced by one group relative to another. A “health care disparity” typically refers to differences between groups in health insurance coverage, access to and use of care, and quality of care. Health and health care disparities often refer to differences that are not explained by variations in health needs, patient preferences, or treatment recommendations and are closely linked with social, economic, and/or environmental disadvantage. The terms “health inequality” and “inequity” also are used to refer to disparities.

A complex and interrelated set of individual, provider, health system, societal, and environmental factors contribute to disparities in health and health careIndividual factors include a variety of health behaviors from maintaining a healthy weight to following medical advice. Provider factors encompass issues such as provider bias and cultural and linguistic barriers to patient-provider communication. How health care is organized, financed, and delivered also shapes disparities. Moreover a broad array of social and environmental factors affect individuals’ health and ability to engage in healthy behaviors.


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