Special Issue "Health and Health Care Access of Vulnerable Populations"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Health Behavior, Chronic Disease and Health Promotion".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 May 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Stéphanie Vandentorren
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of social epidemiology, Institut Pierre Louis d’Epidémiologie et de Santé Publique (IPLESP), Sorbonne Université, Inserm, F75012 Paris, France
Interests: environmental health; social epidemiology; vulnerable populations; outbreaks; epidemiology; children
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Paul Dourgnon
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
IRDES—Institut de Recherche et Documentation en Economie de la Santé, 117bis rue Manin, 75019 Paris, France
Interests: health economies; equity; access to health care services; immigrant health; survey sciences

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are delighted to organize a Special Issue on the health and health care of vulnerable populations in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Vulnerability is a multidimensional concept which definition varies across research fields and between authors, and is related to adjacent concepts such as fragility, poverty or insecurity. Vulnerable individuals are more likely to experience deleterious consequences of adverse events, which can be economic (unemployment, working poors…), medical (disease, accident), familial (divorce, widowhood. Vulnerability includes physiological, psychological, socio-economic and environmental dimensions. Vulnerable population may be identified according to physical fragilities or impairments (children, disabled, elderly); psychological fragility (victims of violence, drug users), social and economic status (homeless, unemployed), isolation (undocumented immigrants, oldest old, marginalized individuals), stigmatization (ethnicity, sexual orientation). Vulnerability plays a pivotal role in life course detrimental dynamics where poverty and economic fragility contribute to worsen health, and the reverse.

Vulnerability is characterized by complex interactions between several individual, socio-environmental and economic dimensions. These dimensions are often combined, inscribed in life paths that determine both health status and access to the health care system. Improving health and healthcare of vulnerable populations requires understanding the mechanisms that generate vulnerability. Understanding the mechanisms then allow to design policies to reduce risks and to improve coping.

Vulnerable individuals are also lees likely to access to universal welfare policies, for reasons of non-take up (due to lack of administrative literacy, language proficiency, access to information, or distrust), lack of inclusiveness/responsiveness of social services, or simply lack of rights. Within the health system, welfare policies mostly consist in Social health insurance and the provision of health care services.

Access to health care services results from an interaction between the individual and the health care system in a process where health needs are perceived, health care is sought, health care services are used, and have an outcome on health. While individual, social and contextual factors may play a role in patients’ demand, access, use and outcomes of health care, health care services may in turn respond differently to identical needs. Health service inclusiveness, responsiveness and discrimination may therefore contribute to disparities in outcomes.

Vulnerable populations are often invisible to policymakers and are changing rapidly. Health policies need to take these populations into consideration in order to better tackle inequalities and keep up with their social objectives. Recent innovations such as information technologies and related techniques (big data, artificial intelligence), may represent a new opportunity to identify and access vulnerable populations and also to provide more appropriate care.

This Special Issue is open to any subject area related to better understanding the health and healthcare of vulnerable populations, and the policies aiming at tackling vulnerabilities in health and their consequences. The listed keywords suggest just a few of the many possibilities.

Dr. Stéphanie Vandentorren
Dr. Paul Dourgnon
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Health care
  • Social Inequalities
  • Vulnerability, fragility
  • Inclusiveness, responsiveness
  • Elderly – children
  • Chronically ill and disabled
  • Minorities – migrants
  • Discrimination
  • Low –income – homeless population
  • Social support
  • Health literacy
  • Big data – Information technologies

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Open AccessArticle
Trends and Inequalities in the Health Care and Hypertension Outcomes in China, 2011 to 2015
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(22), 4578; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16224578 - 19 Nov 2019
Background: Hypertension is one of the most significant and common risk factors for cardiovascular disease, yet it remains poorly controlled in China. This study aims to examine trends and socioeconomic inequalities in the management of hypertension between 2011 and 2015 in China and [...] Read more.
Background: Hypertension is one of the most significant and common risk factors for cardiovascular disease, yet it remains poorly controlled in China. This study aims to examine trends and socioeconomic inequalities in the management of hypertension between 2011 and 2015 in China and to investigate the association between antihypertensive medication treatment and reduction of blood pressure, using nationally representative data. Methods: Concentration curve and concentration index were used to assess socioeconomic-related inequalities in hypertension care and health service utilisation. The fixed-effects analysis was performed to measure the impact of medication treatment on reduction of blood pressure among people with hypertension by using linear regression models. Results: Among hypertensive individuals, there were growing trends in the rates of awareness and treatment from 55.87% and 48.44% in 2011, to 68.31% in 2013 and 61.97% in 2015, respectively. The proportion of hypertension control was still below 30%. The fixed-effects models indicated that medication treatment was statistically significant and associated with the patients’ systolic blood pressure (β: −13.483; 95% CI: −15.672, −11.293) and diastolic blood pressure (β: −5.367; 95% CI: −6.390, −4.344). Conclusions: China has made good progress in the hypertension diagnosis, medication treatment and coverage of health services over the last 10 years; however, pro-rich inequalities in hypertension care still exist, and there is considerable progress to be made in the prevention, treatment and effective control of hypertension. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health and Health Care Access of Vulnerable Populations)
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