Academic journal article International Journal of Men's Health

Staying Alive: Men's Health Disparities in an Urban Context: The Results of a Pilot Study

Academic journal article International Journal of Men's Health

Staying Alive: Men's Health Disparities in an Urban Context: The Results of a Pilot Study

Article excerpt

Overall, men are less likely to graduate high school than women. African-American men (AAM) are disproportionately overrepresented in low-income jobs, which can correlate with unstable employment and low education levels (Lopez, Graham, Reardon, Reyes, Reyes & Padilla, 2012). Additionally, AAM are reported to earn 75% of what White men earn (Xanthos, Treadwell & Holden, 2010), and earnings ultimately delineate the areas in which one can afford to reside. The geographical neighborhood of residence also has an influence on the opportunities a person will be able to access. Racially segregated neighborhoods, especially those with high African-American, Hispanic, American Indian and Alaskan Native population rates, usually exhibit higher concentrations of poverty (James et al., 2012). Poor conditions, such as substandard housing, elevated crime rates, crowding, noise pollution, lack of community recreational activities, and constant personal safety concerns, are prevalent in these areas and discourage healthy community environments. In 2006, the homicide rate for AAM was 84.6 per 100,000 compared to 5.0 per 100,000 for White men, which is more than 46 times the rate of Whites for men ages 15-19 (Xanthos, Treadwell & Holden, 2010). Neighborhood level factors, in addition to income and educational factors, all contribute to one's socioeconomic status. Lack of opportunity, achievement gaps in education, improper police protection and surveillance, a lack of safety and recreational opportunities, and lower property values, are all factors which diminish the potential of African-American communities to grow, be empowered and flourish (Airhihenbuwa & Liburd, 2006).

Ultimately, all of the aforementioned factors influence health care access, life spans and health behaviors (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [DHHS], 2011; Institute of Medicine [IOM], 2002; Lopez et al., 2012). Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) reported health outcomes for men of color (MOC) in their report on Men's Health Disparities, stating that that MOC were more than twice as likely to be uninsured than White men, had gone without care due to cost over 80% more than White men had, and were 70% more likely than White men to not have an ongoing relationship with a primary health care provider (2012). With regards to the quality of healthcare received, AAM were more likely to receive lower quality health care than Whites, were more likely to receive less desirable services or treatment options (i.e., amputations), and have an overall higher mortality rate (IOM, 2002). Significant correlations have been found between uninsured status, poverty, and having or maintaining a relationship with a primary care provider (PCP). Those without medical insurance and in lower income levels were also the same group who identified as having less access to screenings, having a poorer diet, receiving poorer quality health care, and lacking appropriate health information (Thompson, Talley, Caito & Kreuter, 2009).

The accumulation of these negative factors produces a wear-and-tear effect on the minds and bodies of AAM, which has a direct effect on overall health and wellbeing. There is a growing evidence base in the research for the emotional and mental health impacts dailyencountered discrimination places on African-American men (Treadwell, Northbridge & Bethea, 2007). Research has demonstrated the linkage between low SES and poorer health. Stress has been cited as a dominant influencer of health, and is highly increased by instability of income, presence of racism, unhealthy neighborhood residence, relational conflict, and constant threats of violence (Lopez et al., 2012). AAM have the lowest life expectancy and highest mortality rate among men and women in all other racial/ethnic groups as well as shorter life expectancies and higher mortality in every age group until the age of 65, as compared to other racial groups (Airhihenbuwa & Liburd, 2012; Thompson et al. …

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