Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

New Book Focuses on Cultural Issues, Health Disparities

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

New Book Focuses on Cultural Issues, Health Disparities

Article excerpt

SAN DIEGO -- The first comprehensive textbook on health disparities in the United States should hit the bookshelves this month, Rubens J. Pamies, M.D., said at the annual meeting of the National Medical Association.

Coedited by Dr. Pamies and David Satcher, M.D., former U.S. surgeon general and now director of Morehouse School of Medicine's National Center for Primary Care, Atlanta, the book compiles resources previously available only in scattered journal articles. It should fill a number of needs, said Dr. Pamies, vice chancellor for academic affairs and professor of internal medicine at the University of Nebraska, Omaha.

Fewer than half of U.S. medical schools offer a formal curriculum on health disparities, he noted. The book, with a working title of "Multicultural Medicine and Health Disparities," aims to provide a compendium of information not only for health care workers and administrators, but also for political scientists, sociologists, historians, and others. This could help broaden the national dialogue on health disparities and stimulate education of minority professionals, Dr. Pamies said.

Chapters by experts in different medical and health specialties will provide data on health problems facing racial and ethnic minorities and how these contribute to health disparities, compared with whites, as well as other disparities defined by geography, age, gender, disability status, or sexual orientation. The authors will forecast future problems expected if health disparities are not addressed and recommend steps that medical professionals can take to eliminate these disparities.

One chapter, for example, highlights disparities in oral health care, Dr. Pamies said. Only 3% of the nation's approximately 5,000 dentists are African American, though blacks comprise 12% of the U.S. population, he said.

The 2002 Institute of Medicine report, "Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care," said that racial and ethnic minority patients in general prefer to see minority providers and are more likely to participate in medical research if it is conducted by a member of their own minority group. …

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