MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Frederick J. Zimmerman PhD
Department of Health Policy and Management &
Center for Health Advancement
UCLA Fielding School of Public Health
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: We’ve known that health equity is a priority, and we’ve known that we’re probably not doing well. This new study quantifies the decline.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Looking at self-reported health status measures (general health and healthy days) from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System over 25 years, we found that while there have been small improvements in the disparities between White and African-American respondents over this period, several other measures of health equity show that we’re going backward. In particular, while Black-White disparities slightly declined (0.5 standard deviations), income disparities increased markedly (1.5 SD) and a concept of Health Justice declines by 2 standard deviations over the 25 years. An overall measure of health equity that integrates all of these perspectives was stagnant (self-reported general health) or declined by 1.0 standard deviations (healthy days).
While Black-White disparities have improved modestly since 1993, these gains have been more than wiped out by increasing income disparities in health.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: If we want serious progress on health equity, we need serious research on its causes. That means tracking a single measure of health equity over time and across places to see what works and what doesn’t to improve performance in health equity.
- I’d like to acknowledge the generous support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundations uclafsphfor partial funding for this research.
Zimmerman FJ, Anderson NW. Trends in Health Equity in the United States by Race/Ethnicity, Sex, and Income, 1993-2017. JAMA Netw Open. Published online June 28, 20192(6):e196386. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.6386
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