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Health Disparities, Communication in

Vicki S. Freimuth

Subject Medicine
Communication Studies » Communication and Development, Health Communication

Key-Topics health

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


Eliminating health disparities is one of the most pressing global health issues. In the United States, health disparities have been examined primarily as differences in groups based on racial, class, and ethnic classifications. Globally, the issue focuses on the differences between developing and developed nations in health status and access to state of the art treatments. Harshly put, wherever in the world you live, if you are poor and a minority, you live sicker and die sooner (→  Health Communication ). The causal paths leading to these disparities have been more controversial. In the United States, Kawachi and colleagues (2005) identified three paths frequently described in the literature. The first views race as a biologically meaningful category and racial disparities in health as reflecting inherited susceptibility to disease. The second treats race as a proxy for social class and blames socio-economic stratification for disparities. The third approach, and the one the authors strongly support as the most useful, accounts for the independent and interactive effects of both class and race. According to this approach, race is neither a biologically meaningful category nor a proxy for class, but is a separate construct from class. This approach suggests that race should not be used as a proxy for class, neither should racial disparities be analyzed without also considering ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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