Health disparities are involved when speaking about the quality of health care and health across ethnic and racial groups. Therefore, health disparities are defined as “population-specific differences in the presence of disease, health outcomes, or access to health care”.
Simply speaking, health disparities are based on racial discrimination and unwillingness of health care providers to ensure equal quality of treatment, medicine prescription and attitude towards patients. Actually, pharmacy bears relation to health disparities, because it is based on patient treatment and suggests direct communication with customers when prescribing medicine.
It is known that health disparities are present in minority populations, especially among Asian Americans, Indian Americans and African Americans. Comparing with white population, minority groups are characterized by higher incidence of chronic diseases, poorer health outcomes and higher mortality rates.
Health disparities are caused by lack of insurance coverage. It means that if a patient doesn’t have health insurance, medical care will be postponed and without prescription medicines.
Lack of financial resources lead to disparities as well, and, therefore, minority groups have less access to health care compared with whites. Language differences provide restrictions for medical care. Other reasons involve structural barriers, health care financing system, scarcity of providers and health literacy. The next moment to mention is that not only access, but also the quality of medical care is restricted for minority groups. Firstly, there are problems with patient-provider communication.
It is known that communication plays crucial role in delivery of appropriate treatment and medicine prescription. Therefore, lack of communication may lead to improper prescriptions of medicine, incorrect diagnosis and failure to receive follow-up medical care.
Actually, failure to communicate may be caused by lack of cultural understanding. Secondly, the problem of provider discrimination suggests that racial and ethnic patients are treated differently.
Goldberg, J., Hayes, W., & Huntley, J. Understanding Health Disparities.USA: Health Policy Institute of Ohio, 2004.