Social Justice, Health Disparities, and Culture in the Care of the Elderly

Authors

  • Peggye Dilworth-Anderson,

    1. Professor of Health Policy and Management at the Gillings School of Global Public Health and the Interim Co-Director of the Institute on Aging at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
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  • Geraldine Pierre,

    1. Doctoral student at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health studying health policy with a concentration in health services research.
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  • Tandrea S. Hilliard

    1. Doctoral student in Health Policy and Management at the Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
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Abstract

Older minority Americans experience worse health outcomes than their white counterparts, exhibiting the need for social justice in all areas of their health care. Justice, fairness, and equity are crucial to minimizing conditions that adversely affect the health of individuals and communities. In this paper, Alzheimer's disease (AD) is used as an example of a health care disparity among elderly Americans that requires social justice interventions. Cultural factors play a crucial role in AD screening, diagnosis, and access to care, and are often a barrier to support and equality for minority communities. The “conundrum of health disparities” refers to the interplay between disparity, social justice, and cultural interpretation, and encourages researchers to understand both (1) disparity caused by economic and structural barriers to access, treatment, and diagnosis, and (2) disparity due to cultural interpretation of disease, in order to effectively address health care issues and concerns among elderly Americans.

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