Understanding disparities in health care access--and reducing them--through a focus on public health.Health Aff (Millwood). 2011 Oct; 30(10):1844-51.HA
Attempts to explain disparities in access to health care faced by racial and ethnic minorities and other underserved populations often focus on individual-level factors such as demographics, personal health beliefs, and health insurance status. This article proposes an examination of these disparities-and an effort to redress them-through the lens of public health. Public health agencies can link people to needed services such as immunizations, testing, and treatment; ensure the availability of health care; ensure the competency of the public health and personal health care workforce; and evaluate the effectiveness, accessibility, and quality of personal and population-based services. Approaching disparities through a public health framework can provide the foundation for developing more robust evidence to inform additional policies for improving access and reducing disparities.