Health Care Disparities: Nurses Need to Care
The United States government spent 2.3 billion dollars in 2010 on federally funded healthcare initiatives and programs according to a report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (2008). Despite this astronomical amount of money, health care disparities continue to plague disadvantaged populations in the United States. A health care disparity is defined as differences in incidence, mortality, prevalence, disease burden, and adverse health conditions that occur in specific population groups in the United States (National Institutes of Health, 2010).
These differences occur as a result of culture, race and geographical location as well as socioeconomic status (Andrews, & Boyle, 2008). Health disparities affect racial and ethnic minorities, low-income groups, women, children, older adults, residents of rural areas, and individuals with disabilities and special care needs (National Institutes of Health, 2010). Health disparities result in inadequate health care for affected populations with significant medical problems. Inadequate health care delivered in an untimely fashion ultimately requires more intervention to resolve worsening problems and also increases health care expenses for individuals, families, and communities (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2008).
One way to decrease the prevalence of deteriorating health for any population is by using preventive care measures (Andrews, & Boyle, 2008). The use of preventive care allows significant problems to be identified early which enables the resolution of the problem when it is still a minor issue (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2008). Often this strategy is more cost effective and requires the least amount of medical intervention (Andrews, & Boyle, 2008). Groups that experience health disparities have difficulties accessing preventive services such as prenatal care, well-child medical office visits, and general physical medical office visits (Andrews, & Boyle, 2008). Difficulties in accessing preventative care create a health disparity by allowing health issues to grow in severity before medical intervention occurs (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2008). If access to preventative services is increased then the prevalence of health disparity will likely decrease.
The state of Maine is not a very diverse group of people, but health disparities continue to be present. There are four recognized Native American Tribes in Maine, the Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot. These tribes represent the second largest minority in the state (Keuhnert, 2000). As a group they suffer from several health disparities. There is a proportionately higher prevalence of obesity, diabetes, alcoholism, COPD, and lung cancer (Keuhnert, 2000).
Native Americans in Maine live in every Maine County, but populations are concentrated in the rural communities of Indian Island, Pleasant Point, Indian Township,...