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Study shows significant state-by-state differences in black, white life expectancy
Date:2/24/2012

A UCLA-led group of researchers tracing disparities in life expectancy between blacks and whites in the U.S. has found that white males live about seven years longer on average than African American men and that white women live more than five years longer than their black counterparts.

But when comparing life expectancy on a state-by-state basis, the researchers made a surprising discovery: In those states in which the disparities were smallest, the differences often were not the result of African Americans living longer but of whites dying younger than the national average. And, interestingly, the area with the largest disparities wasn't a state at all but the nation's capital, Washington D.C.

The findings are published in the February issue of the peer-reviewed journal Health Services Research.

"In health-disparities research, there is an assumption that large disparities are bad because vulnerable populations are not doing as well as they should, while areas with small disparities are doing a better job at health equity," said Dr. Nazleen Bharmal, the study's lead researcher and a clinical instructor in the division of general internal medicine and health services research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "In our study, we show that the reason there are small disparities in life expectancy is because white populations are doing as poorly as black populations, and the goal in these states should be to raise health equity for all groups."

The data on which the researchers relied included both health-related and nonhealth-related deaths, such as murder and accidents. The findings, however, still highlight the need to improve the health of the nation's African Americans, the researchers said.

The research team studied death-certificate data from the U.S. Multiple Cause of Death for the years 1997�. The data covered 17,834,236 individuals in all 50 states and the District of Columb
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Contact: Enrique Rivero
erivero@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-2273
University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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