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Place, not race, may be a larger determinant of health disparities
Date:10/6/2011

Where you live could play a larger role in health disparities than originally thought, according to a new study by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. They examined a racially integrated, low-income neighborhood in Baltimore, Maryland and found that, with the exception of smoking, nationally reported disparities in hypertension, diabetes, obesity among women and use of health services disappeared or narrowed. The results are featured in the October 2011 issue of Health Affairs.

"Most of the current health disparities literature fails to account for the fact that the nation is largely segregated, leaving racial groups exposed to different health risks and with variable access to health services based on where they live," said Thomas LaVeist, PhD, lead author of the study, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions, and the William C. and Nancy F. Richardson Professor in Health Policy and Management. "By comparing black and white Americans who are exposed to the same set of socioeconomic, social and environmental conditions we were better equipped to discern the impact of race on health-related outcomes and have concluded social factors are essentially equalized when racial disparities are minimized."

LaVeist and colleagues identified communities in the U.S. containing a population of at least 35 percent African American and 35 percent white residents, and where the African Americans and white residents have similar income and education. Two communities in Baltimore were selected as study sites and in-person interviews were conducted with adult residents. Blood pressure was also measured among a number of study participants. Researchers used data from the National Health Interview Survey to compare national and study-site data on obesity, smoking and diabetes. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey was used to compare national and study-site data on hypertensio
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Contact: Natalie Wood-Wright
nwoodwri@jhsph.edu
410-614-6029
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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