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Social Justice, Health Disparities, and Culture in the Care of the Elderly

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2021


This paper addresses two interconnected concepts — health disparities and social justice — as they pertain to screening, diagnosis of disease, and health care access among minority elders in the American society. Health disparities are defined as differences in treatment provided to members of different racial or ethnic groups that are not justified by the underlying health conditions or treatment preferences of patients. Disparities currently exist in many aspects of American health care. For example, when compared to whites, the infant mortality rate is higher for African Americans; health insurance coverage is lower for Latinos and African Americans; and ethnic minorities experience poorer care and survival rates for HIV, even after controlling for other confounding factors including income, insurance, health status, and severity of disease. Among older Americans, health status varies by race, income, and gender. Older minority Americans have consistently been shown to have worse health than whites of the same age group across measures of disease, disability, and self-assessed health. When compared to whites, elderly Latinos have higher rates of diabetes and disabilities, and older African Americans have more chronic conditions.

Copyright © American Society of Law, Medicine and Ethics 2012

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