Social, behavioral, and environmental factors that contribute to disparities in health among the homeless
Homeless people live in deplorable conditions. Consequently, they experience more health problems than people living in better shelters. Homeless people’s living conditions and difficulties make them experience disparities in accessing healthcare. Environmentally, homeless people expose themselves to several health hazards ranging from dangerous industrial wastes to fumes from vehicles, depending on the areas they occupy and socioeconomic status. Therefore, in order to increase equal access to healthcare among the homeless and other vulnerable groups, health policies should ensure involvement of individuals, neighborhood and community (Wilson, 1987).
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Social factors, which are observable in behavior among homeless people, worsen their existing disparities in health. Individual factors like isolation and lack of beneficial interactions and involvements increase disparities in health among homeless individuals. At the same time, this group also engages in self-denial of sickness.
Socially, homeless people have general deprivation with regard to access to necessary social tools such as better neighborhood, education, economic status, and do with worse unhealthy meals. These issues cause wide disparities in accessing healthcare among the homeless populations (Blankfield and Goodwin, 2002).
Policy measure to address disparities in health
Disparities in health have led policymakers to formulate policies which address the existing disparities. As a result, accessibility and affordability of healthcare among the vulnerable groups have received considerable attention from policymakers. Though a number of countries are trying to reduce disparities in healthcare affordability and accessibility, their efforts are far from reducing disparities in health. This is because they fail to address the dominant forces like factors behind poor socioeconomic status, exposure to diseases, among other factors, which result into poor health status (Link and Phelan, 1995).
Relationship between race, sexuality, and socioeconomic status to health outcomes
Race affects outcomes of healthcare mainly at institutional level with regard to practices, and policies that contribute to racial drawbacks. There are also individual’s racial prejudice and internal cognitive process, which results into biased access to healthcare. Racial discrimination affects access to healthcare mainly among the minority groups of such as African-American and other minority races in America (Davis, Cook and Cohen, 2005).
Studies indicate that healthcare requirements among different gender are greater in female than their male counterparts. However, females’ access to healthcare services is low due to their economic status (Adler and Newman, 2002). Women seek preventive healthcare and other services from hospitals as they become old. Differences in sexuality particular with regard to age, income, wealth, and education highly influence requirements for healthcare across different social groups. People with low socioeconomic factors experience reduced access to healthcare, which enhances disparities in health affordability and accessibility.
Other scholars demonstrate that disparities in socioeconomic status such as occupation, income levels, and educational achievements as highly contributing factors to wide disparities in health outcome. These issues are common across all ages and related health status and condition, mortality, and morbidity (Adler and Newman, 2002). Though vulnerable people are more prone to disparities in health than other categories, disparities in health due to these factors cut across different social classes. At the same time, there are challenges that affect minorities’ access to healthcare. These include clinical, administrative and logistical challenges. At the same time, most homeless and other vulnerable groups have wide ranges of illnesses and other psychosocial problems.
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Adler, N. E. and Newman, K. (2002). Socioeconomic disparities in health: pathways and policies. Health Affairs, 21, 60-76.
Blankfield, R. P. and Goodwin, M. (2002). Addressing the unique challenges of inner-city practice: a direct observation study of inner-city, rural, and suburban family practices. J Urban Health, 79, 173-85.
Davis, R., Cook, D. and Cohen, L. (2005). Race, genetics, and health disparities. A community resilience approach to reducing ethnic and racial disparities in health. American Journal of Public Health, 95, 2168–2178.
Link, B. G. and Phelan, J. (1995). Social conditions as fundamental causes of disease. J Health Social Behavior, 80, 80-94.
Wilson, W. J. (1987). The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass, and Public Policy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.