Eliminating Health Disparities in the African American Population: The Interface of Culture, Gender, and Power

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Since the release of former Secretary Margaret Heckler’s Secretary’s Task Force Report on Black and Minority Health more than two decades ago, excess death from chronic diseases and other conditions between African Americans and Whites have increased. The conclusion of that report emphasized excess death and thus clinical care, paying little attention to the sociocultural environment and its effects on risk of disease. The authors of this article contend that eliminating health disparities between the African American and White populations in the United States requires a focus on improving the social environment of African Americans. They examine the interface of culture, gender, and power and how those are central to analysis of the root causes of health disparities. The REACH 2010 project of the Centers for Disease Control offers examples on how a coalition of community and research organizations can infuse community interventions with informed considerations of culture, gender, and power to eliminate health disparities

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