Social Inequalities in Health


[Background music] Technology has enabled the expansion of medicine and has improved the overall health of the
global population. However, not all people have the same access to quality health care
Inequalities in health include differences in rates of disease, health outcomes, and access
to health care. Often, inequalities in health are the result of
social inequalities. Differences in socioeconomic and environmental
factors may present barriers to entering the health care system, resulting in varying
degrees of quality care. It has been shown that wealth is correlated
with longevity, indicating a link between socioeconomic status, and mortality.
In the nineteenth century, risk factors that accounted for inequality in health outcomes
included overcrowding, poor sanitation, and availability of local treatment facilities.
These risk factors have all but disappeared in the industrialized world.
So why do disparities in health care still exist? Although, modern hospitals and treatment
centers are now widespread across the developed world, not everyone can afford treatment.
Compounding this issue, detrimental behaviors such as poor diet, inadequate exercise, and
smoking are higher in populations with lower socioeconomic status.
Furthermore, people of high socioeconomic status generally have better continuity of
care, fewer costs of complying with treatment regimens, and more knowledge about their care.
For example, women with higher income and education levels tend to have better health
insurance, increased awareness, and the ability to take time to regularly visit their doctor,
and so receive more screenings for cervical and breast cancer.
In addition to socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, gender, mental-illness, and disability
are also major factors contributing to inequalities in health.
Understanding why inequalities have persisted despite significant advancements in health
care is an important step forward in reducing health care inequalities. [Background music]

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