Seeing Healthcare through a Social Work Lens

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  • Title: Seeing Healthcare through a Social Work Lens: Tackling Disparities and Inequalities for the Elder African American Male
  • Author(s): Patrick Burden
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Common Ground Open
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Aging and Society
  • Keywords: Healthcare, Cultural Perspectives, Health Disparities, Social Work
  • Volume: 7
  • Issue: 4
  • Year: 2017
  • ISSN: 2160-1909 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2160-1917 (Online)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/2160-1909/CGP/v07i04/73-82
  • Citation: Burden, Patrick . 2017. "Seeing Healthcare through a Social Work Lens: Tackling Disparities and Inequalities for the Elder African American Male." The International Journal of Aging and Society 7 (4): 73-82. doi:10.18848/2160-1909/CGP/v07i04/73-82.
  • Extent: 10 pages

Abstract

Health disparities between whites and people of color are shrinking but are far from eliminated. Specifically, elderly African American men continue to have poorer health outcomes than their white counterparts. Disparities are present across several metrics, including mortality rates from common diseases and overall life expectancy, as well as lower rates of healthcare utilization. Several factors contribute to these inequities: discrimination and lack of access to the healthcare system, mistrust in the healthcare system, and an underutilization of preventive services. As healthcare moves toward population management, it is crucial that these disparities are lessened. This article aims to individually and collectively examine the factors above from a social work perspective and propose ideas for change based on data from a transitional care program that aims to prevent hospital readmissions by engaging patients and empowering them to manage their own healthcare. This article underscores the need for top-down changes to make healthcare delivery more effective for underserved populations while simultaneously addressing ways to shift perspectives in communities of color to stimulate enhanced engagement with the healthcare system.