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Health Disparities Research

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Health Disparities Research essay
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Healthy People 2020 is aimed at reducing health disparities among different groups in the United States. This is achieved by setting national goals and objectives which are meant to improve the health status of all Americans regardless of their ethnic backgrounds (HealthyPeople.gov, 2018). The Healthy People 2020 objectives are also known as Leading Health Indicators, which have been selected to help in communicating high-priority health issues and actions, which can be implemented to address these issues (HealthyPeople.gov, 2018). Most of these objectives have been achieved in the past decade with life expectancy being increased by decreasing some of the deaths associated with certain health problems. One of the leading health indicators identified by the Healthy People 2020 is addressing the issue of substance abuse (HealthyPeople.gov, 2018).

Substance Abuse

Although the government and other stakeholders in the health sector have implemented plans and interventions to address the issue of substance abuse in the United States, this issue continues to negatively affect the health of individuals and families across the nation (Lundgren & Krull, 2018). Research conducted in regards to this issue indicates an estimation of 20 million Americans struggling with drugs and alcohol problem. Substance abuse involves the use of alcohol and other drugs in an uncontrolled and a destructive way (Lundgren & Krull, 2018). This issue has resulted in other problems, which include health problems, family disruptions, financial problems, and lowered productivity. Due to the aspect of this issue, substance abuse has become one of the most complex issues to address incurring high costs to the government and other healthcare agencies in the United States (Lundgren & Krull, 2018).

The United States conducts annual surveys on the aspect of substance abuse with a focus on schools and homes in different locations in the United States (Melnick et al., 2013). These have provided adequate information related to this issue indicating an increasing rate of prescription drug misuse with social and environmental factors contributing to the increase in this health problem (Melnick et al., 2013). The National Institute on Drug Abuse has implemented measures to monitor the prevalence of substance abuse across the United States with a focus on different aspects on substance abuse. These include the usage of illicit drugs, emergency issues related to substance abuse, and the implementation of preventive and treatment interventions (Melnick et al., 2013).

Some of the commonly abused drugs include tobacco, illicit drugs, alcohol, and prescription drugs. Individuals in the adolescent stage have also been identified as high-risk individuals due to influence from other factors, which may include stress from education and unemployment (Lundgren & Krull, 2018). The Africans Americans are also at a high risk due to their low economic status, which may lead to stress as well as prevent them from accessing healthcare services (Lundgren & Krull, 2018). Poverty is also a contributing factor to substance abuse due to the inability to access health information, which may be beneficial in implementing effective measures to promote the health status of individuals (Lundgren & Krull, 2018).

Health Disparities

Some of the health disparities that exist for this health problem include income differences, sex, and access to healthcare services among different groups in the United States (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2018). These differences are attributed to environmental, biological, and social aspects, which shape different communities in different perspectives. The health disparities exist due to unequal distribution of healthcare services to the diverse populations across the United States (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2018). This has prevented some of these minority groups in accessing healthcare information as well as healthcare services, which are important in implementing effective strategies to address some of the healthcare issues, which affect different individuals (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2018).

Race has also contributed to the health disparities among different groups in the United States with some of the races being unable to access quality healthcare services due to limited funds, which is attributed to a low economic status of the community (Guerrero et al., 2013). The African Americans have been indicated to be victims of this health problem, which is attributed to discrimination, which originated from the early times. This led to the group having a challenge in accessing quality healthcare services just like other populations (Guerrero et al., 2013). These explanations have been supported by interviews done on different groups with research analyzing the prevalence of drug abuse among different groups.

This has led to the development of effective prevention and treatment strategies to help these communities in addressing this issue (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2018). One research question that has not been studied which may provide new and insightful information regarding this health problem include what strengths these groups have in enabling them to address this health problem. This might be useful in helping the groups to address this health problem since most of the research has focused on the reasons behind the high prevalence of substance abuse among these groups (Guerrero et al., 2013).

Public Policy

This problem is an important public health problem due to the impact of this problem to most of the individuals as well as to the efforts of the health sector in improving the health status of all citizens in the United States (Earleywine, 2016). This makes it a major concern, which should be addressed to enable all individuals to access quality healthcare services as well as ensure that the nation improves its overall health status (Earleywine, 2016). There are political, social, and economic barriers in the current healthcare system, which hinder disease prevention and health promotion in addressing substance abuse. Political barriers include delays in the implementation of effective recommendations due to the processes required in approving healthcare interventions (Earleywine, 2016).

Members and representatives of the government may address these factors, which contribute to development and increase of substance abuse among different groups in the United States (Guerrero et al., 2013). This will help in creating a suitable environment to enable these groups to access healthcare services, which is important in enabling them to address this issue as well as other health problems affecting the group (Guerrero et al., 2013). Social barriers may include the lack of coordination between the members of the community and healthcare providers, which is important in ensuring that some of the healthcare problems are effectively addressed. Economic barriers are barriers, which are attributed to limited financial resources, which may include low income (Guerrero et al., 2013). This may limit individuals in accessing healthcare insurance coverage, which enables them to access quality healthcare services.

Educating the public about substance abuse may be effectively done by having a collaborative approach, which will allow the public to participate and provide different opinions, which may lead to an effective decision-making process (Earleywine, 2016). This will also enable healthcare providers to develop effective programs, which will suit the diverse groups. The target population may be divided into different groups, which will enable the healthcare providers to focus their health education programs on different groupings (Earleywine, 2016). This is because not all programs may be effective to all groups due to differences in other factors affecting the groups. Financial constraints can be addressed by collaborating with the government since it finances most of the health care resources and programs (Earleywine, 2016).

One of a health administrator policy specific to this health problem might impact the health status of the target population in different perspectives since the provision of healthcare services are influenced by the current implemented policies (Earleywine, 2016). The effects of these policies are likely to be felt by the target population, which might improve or negatively affect their health status based on the policy. However, a health administrator may be more qualified in developing effective decisions due to his/her ability to interact with the members of the target population, which may help the administrator in making informed decisions (Earleywine, 2016).


  1. Earleywine, M. (2016). Substance use problems. Toronto: Hogrefe.
  2. Guerrero, E. G., Marsh, J. C., Duan, L., Oh, C., Perron, B., & Lee, B. (2013). Disparities in completion of substance abuse treatment between and within racial and ethnic groups. Health Services Research, 48(4), 1450–1467.
  3. HealthyPeople.gov. (2018). Healthy people 2020. Retrieved from https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/Leading-Health-Indicators
  4. HealthyPeople.gov. (2018). Healthy people 2020. Retrieved from https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/leading-health-indicators/2020-lhi-topics/Substance-Abuse
  5. Lundgren, L., & Krull, I. (2018). Screening, assessment, and treatment of substance use disorders: Evidence-based practices, community, and organizational setting in the era of integrated care. New York: Oxford University Press.
  6. Melnick, G., Duncan, A., Thompson, A., Wexler, H. K., Chaple, M., & Cleland, C. M. (2013). Racial Disparities in Substance Abuse Treatment and the Ecological Fallacy. Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse, 10(3), 226–245.
  7. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Advancing Addiction Science. Trends and Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics

Health Disparities Research essay

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