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Figuring out why minorities get sicker and what to do about it

Advancing Knowledge. Improving Life.

Leveling the field

By Alicia Ritchey SPH Communications Intern

After a heart attack, patients who are smokers need to quit During one of his presidential campaigns, Franklin Roosevelt said, “Nothing can be more important to a state than its public smoking in order to reduce the risk of subsequent cardiac health; the state’s paramount concern should be the health of events. However, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the proportion of elderly Medicare its people.” With advances in medicine and technology, people today are beneficiaries hospitalized for acute myocardial infarction who healthier than ever. Yet, ethnic, racial and cultural minorities are received smoking cessation counseling was lower among black and Hispanic elderly compared with finding themselves on unequal footing non-Hispanic white elderly. when it comes to disease incidence and Ann Scheck McAlearney, assistant medical care. professor in our HSMP Division, is “Addressing this issue is important involved in a study designed to improve because everyone should have the cardiovascular care for minority same chance for health their education Americans. Her research is part of the level, race and income,” said Sharon Expecting Success program, a major Schweikhart, associate professor in SPH’s initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Division of Health Services Management Foundation focused on both quality and Policy (HSMP). improvement and reducing health The National Cancer Institute defines disparities. disparities in health as “differences in – Sharon Schweikhart, associate “The major goals of this study are the incidence, prevalence, mortality, and professor in SPH’s Division of Health to improve cardiovascular care for burden of cancer and related adverse Services Management and Policy minorities and to reduce disparities health conditions that exist among in care, while increasing awareness of specific population groups in the United States.” However, disparities in health may also be apparent disparities as an important health issue,” said McAlearney. McAlearney is part of a team of experts in quality between groups when compared on the basis of income or improvement, evidence-based practice, survey and sampling insurance status. Some examples of medical conditions that affect ethnic/racial methodologies, and collection of race and ethnicity data. groups in unequal proportion include cancer, cardiovascular The team is applying quality improvement methods to disease, diabetes and obesity. For example, one report from the improve care for all patients with cardiovascular disease, while Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that investigating the nature of disparities in care that may exist in the age-adjusted prevalence of hypertension is 40.5 percent the participating hospitals. Ten hospitals are part of the project, and McAlearney’s role among non-Hispanic blacks compared to 27.4 percent among includes working to each hospital to assess its institutional non-Hispanic whites. Patients from different racial and ethnic backgrounds are readiness for change. She will be helping the hospitals to not reaping the full benefits of technological advances in create site-specific Cardiovascular Improvement Plans that will guide quality improvement activities aimed to improve cardiac care.

“Everyone should have the same chance for health despite their education level, race and income.”

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Impact Magazine 2006  

The research magazine of Ohio State's College of Public Health

Impact Magazine 2006  

The research magazine of Ohio State's College of Public Health

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