The term ‘health disparity’ refers to the difference and inequality in the provision and access of healthcare across different populations from diverse socioeconomic status, racial and ethnic backgrounds. Health status differences mainly occur when members of certain population have low survival rate and high mortality rate when compared to the other groups. Health disparities are widely common and can be easily identified along diverse ethnic and racial groups, for instance Native Americans, Asian Americans, African Americans and Hispanics suffer from different health issues and have a different survival rate compared to the other populations residing in the same area. Moreover, such health differences spread out beyond race and also include factors such as limited access to healthcare resources, gender, behavioral and biological aspects and socioeconomic status (Haas, Krueger, & Rohlfsen, 2012).
It is evident from various research studies that health difference is mainly driven by the socioeconomic status. It is commonly seen that individuals having low income, occupational status and education experience poor health conditions. Due to the lack of proper treatment and health resources they die earlier compared to their better-off counterparts. Disparity gradients are highly visible across socioeconomic spectrum though largely affecting the individuals living in poverty.
Socioeconomic status and health have numerous dimensions and are thus measured in several ways. One of the important approach implemented in the measurement of socioeconomic status mainly emphasizes on the behavioral and socioeconomic status of the individuals and the related health outcomes. Socioeconomic status measures reported in numerous research studies mainly include education, income and occupation. These three measures are very important and are somehow interlinked and correlated with all the other measures that may be considered. The occupational measures covers employment status of an individual along with specific and aggregate occupational group. The educational measures includes the level of completed education and the credentials earned by the respective individual. Furthermore, in the income measure the family, annual and individual income is included (Shavers, 2007).
Most aspects of the health are efficiently and accurately predicted by the socioeconomic status. Race and gender differences are the main predictors of health. Studies have reported that higher education and stronger socioeconomic status predict better health conditions. Numerous gaps exist in the current knowledge regarding the health disparities in various populations. For instance, public health statistics are routinely reported based on ethnic and racial groups however, the health disparity due to socioeconomic status is hardly examined. Moreover, the data concerning the health differences taken into account is usually limited to fewer groups. The lack of information reported on economic and social differences create public health problems as these socioeconomic patterns in a particular region are highly helpful in locating, understanding and addressing the health disparity problem (Farmer & Ferraro, 2005).
Detailed research studies concerning the minority groups particularly are lacking. Most of the individuals may never achieve their full health potential due to the lack of advanced social conditions therefore, development of population-wide social policies is highly required to address the issue. These policies will assist in positively reducing the socioeconomic, ethnic and racial disparities in public health. Future research studies should mainly focus on reporting the health issues regarding minority population so as to assist in addressing their health problems. This information would play a crucial role in serving different racial and ethnic communities. The main challenge for the current research work is to identify more proximal methods in which socioeconomic status has less impact on health status and outcome.