Health Disparities in Patient Populations and the Impact of Health Literacy

Subject: Public Health
Pages: 1
Words: 377
Reading time:
2 min
Study level: Master

Health disparities are characterized by health differences among socioeconomic, ethnic, racial and other populations as well as people with substance use disorders. More often than not, healthcare inequities result from wider inequalities and are observed among socially disadvantaged segments of society. Several factors contribute to health disparities and contradict social justice as they can be prevented. Among these factors are the lack of insurance coverage, the availability of trained healthcare providers and healthcare facilities within one’s geographic areas as well as language and cultural barriers between providers and patients.

The presence or absence of insurance coverage affects a person’s health status. Among different social groups, health disparities between insured and uninsured people were noted. The problem of health insurance absence is well-known: uninsured people face hard-to-reach and non-affordable healthcare and unfair quality limitation of treatment. A possible decrease in disparities will occur by making healthcare more accessible to the public regardless of insurance availability.

Adequate healthcare availability varies significantly by location as well as the surrounding community. For example, so-called “low-opportunity communities” require appropriate healthcare facilities as well as trained providers and access to correct treatment (Cole et al., 2018). The solution to this problem can be a pre-planned course of development of society and attempts to avoid segregation of the population (the formation of disadvantaged and wealthy areas).

Language and cultural barriers imply problems in communication and understanding as well as the demonstration of any discrimination. These factors affect the quality of healthcare services received and, as a result, are the reasons for health disparities (Al Shamsi et al., 2020). Sometimes the language barrier can be overcome with the help of translation tools. However, overcoming the cultural barrier involves working with the population to increase tolerance and acceptance for cultural diversity.

Health illiteracy is widespread despite the age of technology and accessible information. Health literacy is strongly related to the ability to heal and on the other side, being health illiterate causes deterioration, delays in seeking care, and misuse of medications (McDonald, M., & Shenkman, L., 2018). There is no easy way to improve health literacy among the patient population. Still, it can be enhanced by providing correct, easy-to-understand and up-to-date health information, as well as including health literacy in education for young people and adults.


Al Shamsi, H., Almutairi, A. G., Al Mashrafi, S., & Al Kalbani, T. (2020). Implications of language barriers for healthcare: a systematic review. Oman medical journal, 35(2), e122.

Cole, D. M., Thomas, D. M., Field, K., Wool, A., Lipiner, T., Massenberg, N., & Guthrie, B. J. (2018). The 21st century cures act implications for the reduction of racial health disparities in the US criminal justice system: A public health approach. Journal of racial and ethnic health disparities, 5(4), 885-893.

McDonald, M., & Shenkman, L. (2018). Health literacy and health outcomes of adults in the United States: Implications for providers. The Internet Journal of Allied Health Sciences and Practice, 16(4).