Health Disparities in the United States

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The Federal Department of Human and Health Service (DHHS) and Healthy People 2020

The Federal Department of Human and Health Service (DHHS) launched the Healthy People 2020 initiative to build a healthier nation. One of the aims of Healthy People 2020 was to achieve health equity, eliminate disparities, and improve the health of all groups. According to Healthy People 2020, a health disparity refers to a particular type of health difference that is closely related to social, economic, and/or environmental disadvantage. Health disparities adversely affect groups of people who more often experience obstacles to health due to their race, ethnic group, religion, socioeconomic status, gender, age, mental health, and cognitive, sensory, or physical disability. Other contributors include sexual orientation or gender identity, geographic location, and other characteristics historically linked to discrimination and exclusion. Provision of quality health care must consider these groups of people and implement measures to ensure that they receive the best of services.

My Responsibility as a Nurse

My responsibility as a nurse involves administering medication, monitoring patients, educating individuals and their families, consulting with other healthcare providers, and managing medical records. I, therefore, interact with the patients at a personal level. This requires creating a professional bond with every patient I attend to regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and other minor person-to-person differences. Establishing a therapeutic bond enables me to treat patients effectively, including those who would be prejudiced by some medical professionals and compromise their recovery. For example, a nurse may be reluctant to attend to a black male patient who is brought to the outpatient with a gunshot wound before establishing why he was shot. Such behavior would put the patient's life at risk. Combating such disparities is, therefore, something I strongly feel about and want to make a change.

Identifying Articles Related to Health Disparities

To get articles discussing health disparities, I used the Capella University Library's search engine Summon to access databases related to health issues. I used the keywords health disparities, health inequities, community health assessment, community health involvement plan, strategic planning, and local health departments. I accessed the search results by clicking on various links on the results page. In the advanced search option, I limited my search to scholarly and peer-reviewed journals. I entered journal article as the publication type and medicine and nursing as subjects. I narrowed down the date range to articles published within the last five years.

Assessing Credibility and Relevance of Information Sources

I assessed the credibility of the various articles by ensuring that they were published within the last five years. I also ensured that the authors are from recognized institutions and they are well-known in the field of research. For sources from websites, I verified that the domains are either .gov or .org.

I confirmed the relevance of the sources by ascertaining that the information therein was consistent with the discussion about health disparities and the various measures that different stakeholders have taken to curb the vice.

Annotated Bibliography

Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (2017). Disparities. Retrieved from

This source elaborates the context of disparities, the contributors, and the efforts that the United States of America government has made to eliminate the problem through the Healthy People 2020 initiative. The article defines health equity as the attainment of the highest level for all people. It observes that for the nation to attain health equity, every person must be valued equally by focusing efforts to address avoidable inequalities, historical or contemporary injustices, and eliminating health and health care disparities. The article confirms that many disparities exist in the United States, particularly in the field of health. According to the article, the disparity exists when a health outcome is seen to a greater or lesser extent between different populations. The predisposing factors include race or ethnicity, sex, sexual identity, age, socioeconomic status, and geographic location, among others. The article also gives statistics of people likely to suffer from health disparities. For instance, it states that about 100 million in people identified themselves as belonging to a racial or ethnic minority population. The article explains that Healthy People 2020 plans to assess health disparities in the U.S. population by examining the rates of illness, death, chronic conditions, behaviors, and other types of outcomes in relation to the predisposing factors or determinants of health. The article is relevant because it does not only provide statistics on people at risk, but it also gives the various steps that the government has or intends to take to eliminate health disparities.

Shah G.H., & Sheahan J.P. (2016). Local health departments' activities to address health

disparities and inequities: Are we moving in the right direction? International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2016; 13(1):44.

This article provides information about the effectiveness of efforts taken by the local health departments (LHDs) to address health disparities and inequities. According to the authors, health disparities contribute to the major challenges of public health. The authors state that LHDs are the primary units in the fight to eliminate disparities in the population and are strategically positioned to address the problem. The authors observe that about 20 per cent of LHDs do not any activities to address health disparities. They also state that the proportion of LHDs that performed health disparity reduction or elimination decreased significantly between 2005 and the time of the research. The positive markers of LHDs that addressed health disparities include a recent completion of community health assessment, community health improvement plan, and agency-wide strategic plan. Other positive associations include per capita expenditures, local governance, the presence of one or more local health boards, larger population size, and metropolitan status of the LHD jurisdiction. The authors concluded that the reduction of the infrastructural capacity of LHDs has resulted in the reduction of the number of LHDs addressing health disparities in their designated areas. They, therefore, recommended that the policies directed towards the elimination of health disparities should consider investing in the informatics capacity of LHDs. This article was chosen due to the detailed information about LHDs efforts in addressing health disparities and the problems they face while in the process. It also provides a possible solution for the hurdles.

Institute for Healthcare Improvement. (2017). Triple Aim for Populations.

This article discusses the Triple Aim for Populations, a connotation of the Institute of Healthcare Improvement (IHI) that includes delivery of excellent health care, optimized costs of offering the care, and improvement of the health of the population. The article states that the successful health and health care systems of the future will be those that will deliver the triple aim simultaneously. IHI believes that the Triple Aim is the ultimate destination for the high-performing hospitals and health systems of the future. The article also observes that IHI has partnered with various stakeholders to understand and grade the needs of various populations. The populations are then educated to improve their health, and to utilize all the assets at their disposal at the community level to achieve health improvement, experience good care, and cut down on costs. According to the article, the IHI focus on Triple Aim for population includes new models of population health management, change of packages to support the Triple Aim, starting with high-cost, high-risk populations. Other strategies include campaign programs and the extension of reach and impact by building capacity and skills for population health improvement. This article was chosen because it provides schematic strategies that the IHI uses to help eliminate health disparities in specific populations.

Learnings from the Research

Conducting the research helped me gather useful information regarding the state of health disparities. It helped me realize that health disparity does not only manifest in racial or ethnic groups. Rather it is an extended spectrum that encompasses sex, sexual identity, age, socioeconomic status, and disability among others. The research provided me with the extent to which health disparities continue to challenge the health sector. For instance, the article by Shah and Sheahan (2015) gave me insight on how the various local health departments have failed in their bid to eliminate health disparities, the primary reason being reduced infrastructural capacity. The article by IHI gave me information regarding the different efforts various departments are taking to handle health disparities. Lastly, creating the annotated bibliography provided me with articles that I can refer to when writing a paper on health disparities in the United States.


Institute for Healthcare Improvement. (2017). Triple Aim for Populations.

Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (2017). Disparities. Retrieved from

Shah G.H., & Sheahan J.P. (2016). Local health departments' activities to address health

disparities and inequities: Are we moving in the right direction? International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2016; 13(1):44.

October 05, 2023

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