Health disparities are preventable differences in the burden of disease, injury, violence, or opportunities to achieve optimal health that are experienced by socially disadvantaged populations.
There are several factors that lead to these disparities, some of which are listed below:
- Poor access to healthcare
- Exposure to environmental hazards such as air pollution
- Inadequate level of education
- Individual and behavioral factors such as smoking
Other factors that strongly influence health status and health disparities include:
- High-quality education
- Nutritious food
- Decent and safe housing
- Affordable, reliable public transportation
- Culturally sensitive health care providers
- Health insurance
- Clean water and non-polluted air
These so-called “social determinants of health” are the structural determinants and conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age.
Health Disparities Factsheet, Center for American Progress, 2010