Dangerous and troublingly stubborn health disparities persist among large population groups in the United States, according to a report from Rubix Life Sciences
And there’s no “silver bullet” single solution to solving the problem. “Disparities are often the result of complex interactions among multiple factors, including unique populations and behavioral risk factors,” according to Rubix’s “Therapeutic Outcomes for Minorities with Generic Access Compared to Populations with Access to Specialized Treatment.”
“The cumulative influences of immigration, segregation, discrimination, prevailing social perceptions, historical policies, and practices are still apparent in the healthcare setting,” the analysis adds.
“We must get to the root causes of these serious and literally life-threatening disparities,” says Reginald Swift, Ph. D. founder/CEO at Rubix Life Sciences. Important factors include geography, access to healthcare, and individual disease risk factors.
The paper offers several suggestions to begin to close these gaps in outcomes. For example, while raising taxes and increasing regulations designed to curb use of alcohol, tobacco, and other products that can lead to poor health, perhaps it “may be advantageous for those dollars to be used to fund better, health schools or programs aimed at teaching individuals to make better lifestyle choices and better manage chronic health conditions”
The Rubix report also calls on “communities, providers and individuals” to do their part. Noting the best chance to effect real change lies at the grassroots level, the document stresses “new interventions must be developed and tested to determine efficacy among different racial minority populations.”
“Data can be harnessed to better reach previously underserved populations, but that data must also be interpreted by people who understand the patient population in question,” says Swift.
On a positive note, Rubix LS notes many health disparities have been reduced in the past few decades, thanks in part to public health efforts such as vaccinations, safer workplaces, better control of communicable diseases, and maternal-infant programs.
However, while the rates of most chronic and infectious diseases are declining across all population groups, “not all racial minority groups are experiencing the same rates of decline as observed in Whites,” the report says.
“We must do a better job of sharing the benefits of clinical trials with everyone,” says Swift.
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