In the United States, health disparities are notable differences existing among population groups. A section of citizens can access advanced healthcare while the other group cannot access such services. The persistence in disparity is attributable to socioeconomic and system-level factors in society (Brown et al., 2019). Embracing an ecological framework and funding vulnerable groups are imperative health disparity interventions.
An ecological framework is anchored on the premise that no single factor is sufficient in elucidating why some groups of people are at higher risk of not accessing good healthcare.
The framework outlines four factors linked to health disparity – individual, relationship, community, and society. At individual level, biological and personal factors influence the type of health care one receives. Relationships – family, friends, and peers influence the type of treatment one gets. In the community context, population density and mobility determine the treatment the community members are given. Lastly, societal factors – economic and social policies govern the socioeconomic inequalities among people. As a result, people are categorized into economic and social classes that influence where and the type of treatment they can receive. To address the disparities, the framework can, thus, be used in identifying and clustering intervention strategies based on each ecological level.
Further, health disparities can also be reduced with more funding to target interventions. Notably, allocating resources for vulnerable groups will boost health outcomes. Thornton et al. (2016) assert that the funding will help these groups to improve health and lifestyle behaviors and reduce socio-contextual barriers – access to adequate food, healthcare, and education. Embracing a multidimensional lens that incorporates an ecological framework and funding of vulnerable groups is, therefore, imperative in scaling up health equity.
Thornton, R. L., Glover, C. M., Cené, C. W., Glik, D. C., Henderson, J. A., & Williams, D. R. (2016). Evaluating strategies for reducing health disparities by addressing the social determinants of health. Health Affairs, 35(8), 1416-1423. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2015.1357
Brown, A. F., Ma, G. X., Miranda, J., Eng, E., Castille, D., Brockie, T., & Trinh-Shevrin, C. (2019). Structural interventions to reduce and eliminate health disparities. American journal of public health, 109(S1), S72-S78. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2018.304844