Health Disparities: The Emerging Trends and Pressing Challenges

A special issue of European Journal of Investigation in Health, Psychology and Education (ISSN 2254-9625).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2024) | Viewed by 4738

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
Department of Public Health, Ashkelon Academic College, Ashkelon, Israel
Interests: health disparities; health promotion & education; health policy; sociology of health
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines health disparities as “preventable differences in the burden, disease, injury, violence, or in opportunities to achieve optimal health experienced by socially disadvantaged racial, ethnic, and other population groups and communities”.

Health disparities have a profound influence on communities and individuals, shaping their overall health, wellbeing, and social dynamics. Health disparities are often deeply rooted in societal inequities related to factors such as race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, education, and access to resources. Health disparities contribute to unequal health outcomes, reduced community resilience, a lack of trust and cooperation, a burden on community resources, and disruption of wellbeing. Addressing health disparities requires a community-centered approach that involves collaboration between governments, healthcare providers, community organizations, policymakers, and individuals. By promoting health equity, improving access to healthcare, and addressing social determinants of health, communities can work towards reducing health disparities and creating healthier environments for all residents. While it is true that there have been increasing efforts to address health disparities in recent years, the persistence and complexity of these disparities present ongoing challenges. Continued research, data collection, and evaluation are essential to inform effective strategies and monitor progress in reducing health disparities.

The aim of this Special Issue is to raise awareness about the existence, magnitude, and impact of health disparities within specific populations or across various dimensions such as race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, or geographic location, to explore and deepen the understanding of the determinants of health disparities and to inform and influence policy development and healthcare practice.

Prof. Keren Dopelt
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • health disparities and health inequality locally and globally
  • health justice and distributive justice
  • food insecurity
  • public vs. private health insurance
  • health of immigrants, minorities, LGBTQ
  • racism/ethnicity/diversity
  • health services utility among marginalized and vulnerable populations
  • public health policy
  • health workforce and services in peripheral areas
  • social determinants of health

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

13 pages, 1218 KiB  
Article
Health-Related Quality of Life and Injuries in Physical Education Students: A Multi-Group Model According to the Degree of Adherence to the Mediterranean Diet
by Eduardo Melguizo-Ibáñez, José Luis Ubago-Jiménez, Daniel Sanz-Martín and José Manuel Alonso-Vargas
Eur. J. Investig. Health Psychol. Educ. 2024, 14(5), 1140-1152; https://doi.org/10.3390/ejihpe14050075 (registering DOI) - 24 Apr 2024
Abstract
The Mediterranean diet is considered a healthy eating pattern. It has been shown to improve people’s quality of life. When a person suffers injuries, their quality of life suffers. This research aims to accomplish the following: (a) to study the differences in the [...] Read more.
The Mediterranean diet is considered a healthy eating pattern. It has been shown to improve people’s quality of life. When a person suffers injuries, their quality of life suffers. This research aims to accomplish the following: (a) to study the differences in the effect of the health-related quality of life on injuries according to the degree of adherence to the Mediterranean diet, (b) to analyse the existing differences in the variables that make up the health-related quality of life according to the degree of adherence to the Mediterranean diet, and (c) to analyse the degree of adherence to the Mediterranean diet according to whether the participants have suffered any injury. The study was descriptive, cross-sectional, and exploratory in a sample of 556 physical education students. The PREDIMED questionnaire, the SF-36 questionnaire, and a self-administered questionnaire were used. The results showed that high adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with higher quality of life and lower injury rates. It was also observed that high adherence to the Mediterranean diet improved the effect of the quality of life on injuries. In conclusion, the Mediterranean diet is beneficial for the quality of life of young university students. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health Disparities: The Emerging Trends and Pressing Challenges)
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15 pages, 1548 KiB  
Article
Temporal Fluctuations of Suicide Mortality in Japan from 2009 to 2023 Using Government Databases
by Ryusuke Matsumoto, Eishi Motomura and Motohiro Okada
Eur. J. Investig. Health Psychol. Educ. 2024, 14(4), 1086-1100; https://doi.org/10.3390/ejihpe14040071 - 21 Apr 2024
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Abstract
In Japan, suicide mortalities consistently decreased before the COVID-19 pandemic (from 2009 to 2019) but, conversely, increased after the pandemic outbreak from 2020 to 2022. To provide up-to-date suicide statistics in Japan, this study determined the temporal fluctuations of standardized suicide mortalities (SMRs), [...] Read more.
In Japan, suicide mortalities consistently decreased before the COVID-19 pandemic (from 2009 to 2019) but, conversely, increased after the pandemic outbreak from 2020 to 2022. To provide up-to-date suicide statistics in Japan, this study determined the temporal fluctuations of standardized suicide mortalities (SMRs), disaggregated by sex and age, by joinpoint regression analysis using the government suicide database, named the “Basic Data on Suicide in Region”. From January 2009 to December 2023, three temporal fluctuation patterns of SMRs pertaining to working age and older adults were detected, such as attenuations of decreasing trends before the COVID-19 pandemic (from around the mid-2010s), a sharply increasing trend that coincided with the pandemic outbreak, and gradually decreased during the pandemic, but no changes at the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, the SMRs of working-age females sharply increased concurrently with the pandemic outbreak, whereas those of males did not change. However, before the pandemic, decreasing trends of the SMRs of working-age males diminished in the mid-2010s, but those of females consistently decreased. The SMRs of working-age males indicated non-significant but sharply increasing trends in early 2022, a trend that was not observed for females. In contrast to working-age adults, the SMRs of adolescents already began to increase in the mid-2010s and also indicated consistently increasing trends between the periods during and after the pandemic. These results suggest, contrary to our expectations, that the impacts of both the outbreak and end of the COVID-19 pandemic were limited regarding the increase in SMRs from 2020. Therefore, when revising suicide prevention programs in the post-COVID-19 era, it should be noted that focusing on pandemic-associated factors alone is not sufficient. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health Disparities: The Emerging Trends and Pressing Challenges)
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12 pages, 436 KiB  
Article
Factors Contributing to the Health of 0- to 5-Year-Old Low-Birth-Weight Children in the United States: Application of the Multiple Disadvantage Model
by Tyrone C. Cheng and Celia C. Lo
Eur. J. Investig. Health Psychol. Educ. 2024, 14(1), 203-214; https://doi.org/10.3390/ejihpe14010013 - 09 Jan 2024
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Abstract
This secondary data analysis of 1731 low-birth-weight children and their parents in the United States investigated children’s health and its associations with social disorganization, social structural factors, social relationships, health/mental health, and access to health insurance/services. The study drew on data from the [...] Read more.
This secondary data analysis of 1731 low-birth-weight children and their parents in the United States investigated children’s health and its associations with social disorganization, social structural factors, social relationships, health/mental health, and access to health insurance/services. The study drew on data from the 2021 National Survey of Children’s Health. Logistic regression yielded results showing low-birth-weight children’s excellent/very good/good health to be associated positively with parents’ education and health. In turn, child health was associated negatively with being Black, having a family income at or below the 100% federal poverty level, difficulty parenting the child, child chronic health condition(s), parent mental health, and substance use in the family. The implications of the present findings in terms of interventions promoting maternal and child health as well as participation in government assistance programs for low-income families are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health Disparities: The Emerging Trends and Pressing Challenges)
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15 pages, 1655 KiB  
Article
Injury as a Result of Children and Adolescent Labor—An Association with Ethnicity and Peripherality: A Retrospective Cohort Study Based on the Israeli Trauma Registry
by Bella Savitsky, Irina Radomislensky, Eldad Katorza and Arielle Kaim
Eur. J. Investig. Health Psychol. Educ. 2024, 14(1), 133-147; https://doi.org/10.3390/ejihpe14010009 - 31 Dec 2023
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Abstract
Background: Working children and adolescents face a heightened risk of work-related injuries. This research aimed to assess the rate of hospitalizations resulting from work-related injuries among children and adolescents in Israel, with a specific focus on disadvantaged populations. Methods: This nationwide retrospective cohort [...] Read more.
Background: Working children and adolescents face a heightened risk of work-related injuries. This research aimed to assess the rate of hospitalizations resulting from work-related injuries among children and adolescents in Israel, with a specific focus on disadvantaged populations. Methods: This nationwide retrospective cohort study utilized The Israeli National Trauma Registry (INTR). It included 642 children and adolescents aged 13–17 hospitalized due to work-related injuries from 2015–2022. Results: Arab children had over five times the risk of hospitalization due to work-related injuries compared to Jewish (RR = 5.5, 95% CI: 4.7–7.4). Despite the 2018 law prohibiting young people from entering this type of work, the most common type of work leading to hospitalization was construction, accounting for 40.2% of Arab and 11.9% of Jewish injuries (p < 0.001). After adjustment, road traffic accidents and falls presented the highest odds of at least severe injury. Arabs had three times significantly higher odds of at least moderate injury compared to Jews. Conclusions: Prioritizing the creation of safe job opportunities for Arab teenagers is imperative. Strict enforcement measures, particularly within the construction industry, especially among Arab youth and during night shifts, are essential. These initiatives should focus on establishing secure and sustainable employment opportunities for children and young individuals, effectively reducing the risks associated with hazardous labor practices. In addition, the implementation of educational programs in the school curriculum covering essential aspects of youth employment is vital. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health Disparities: The Emerging Trends and Pressing Challenges)
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13 pages, 286 KiB  
Article
Higher Education in Public Health as a Tool to Reduce Disparities: Findings from an Exploratory Study among the Bedouin Community in Israel
by Osnat Bashkin, Avia Suisa and Sharon Levi
Eur. J. Investig. Health Psychol. Educ. 2023, 13(10), 2082-2094; https://doi.org/10.3390/ejihpe13100147 - 30 Sep 2023
Viewed by 929
Abstract
The Bedouin community is a minority disadvantaged population in Israel that suffers from a variety of health and socioeconomic disparities and limited access to higher education. The current study aimed to examine perceptions, successes, and challenges experienced by Bedouin students during their studies [...] Read more.
The Bedouin community is a minority disadvantaged population in Israel that suffers from a variety of health and socioeconomic disparities and limited access to higher education. The current study aimed to examine perceptions, successes, and challenges experienced by Bedouin students during their studies and to assess an internship program developed on the principles of a community-based participatory research approach to public health. In-depth interviews were conducted with 34 Bedouin students studying in the public health academic track between January and April 2023. Grounded Theory was used to analyze the data. Three main themes emerged from the analysis: (1) facilitators for the decision to pursue higher education in public health, (2) challenges and coping strategies, and (3) experiences of success. The internship program included eleven Bedouin students who conducted six community intervention projects covering a range of topics with different target Bedouin populations. Higher education is crucial for empowering minorities, producing leadership, and reducing socioeconomic and health gaps. The field internship enabled the necessary alignment between academia and public health practice. It is important to further reflect on the integration of minority groups in public health studies and its role in decreasing health inequity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health Disparities: The Emerging Trends and Pressing Challenges)
14 pages, 310 KiB  
Article
“I Believe More in the Ability of the Small Person to Make Big Changes”: Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship to Promote Public Health in Israel
by Keren Dopelt, Nila Mordehay, Shir Goren, Aviya Cohen and Paul Barach
Eur. J. Investig. Health Psychol. Educ. 2023, 13(9), 1787-1800; https://doi.org/10.3390/ejihpe13090130 - 13 Sep 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 966
Abstract
Social entrepreneurship has grown worldwide in recent decades as it attempts to create and implement innovative solutions to social and environmental issues through business strategies. The aim of this study was to explore what motivates public health social entrepreneurs to act, the challenges [...] Read more.
Social entrepreneurship has grown worldwide in recent decades as it attempts to create and implement innovative solutions to social and environmental issues through business strategies. The aim of this study was to explore what motivates public health social entrepreneurs to act, the challenges and barriers they face, achievements, and competencies required for success. As such, we interviewed 15 social entrepreneurs in Israel. Budget issues, regulatory barriers, and struggles against powerful companies were the frequent barriers to success. The interviewees indicated several achievements at the health policy level by positioning and becoming an authority in the field, positively influencing other people’s lives. They highlighted the importance of creativity, determination and courage, leadership, and the ability to persevere in the face of overwhelming adverse odds as essential for the social entrepreneur’s success. Social entrepreneurship in public health is essential when struggling with health disparities. Nevertheless, recognizing that social entrepreneurship is not a substitute for methodological government planning and accountability is crucial. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health Disparities: The Emerging Trends and Pressing Challenges)
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