The group felt that organizations should advocate for funding needed to identify gaps in access to quality health care services; to pursue systems and policy level research to improve quality of care; and to focus on reducing obesity and other risk factors. Primary prevention services are critical and should be encouraged and reimbursed. These include community outreach programs in school, work and faith-based settings. And all Americans, regardless of their race, socio-economic status or where they live, need to have access to evidence-based cardiovascular care.
To educate the public and the government, the report supports the American Heart Association's and other public health entities' in their continued emphasis on cardiovascular disease risk factors and outcomes among ethnic populations.
"There are some articles in this issue in Circulation that underscore another aspect of the problem," Bonow said. "Many health care providers do not recognize that there are health disparities. Among the ones that do, many don't believe that these problems are occurring in their own offices. There is a clear need to educate healthcare providers as well as the public and legislators."
Among educational recommendations the group cites the need to reach minorities with educational information and materials. More health care providers should be receiving training in cultural competency, as well as have culturally sensitive educational health care materials in different languages available for their patients.
"The underlying causes for health care disparities are deeply rooted in our society and are not merely medical issues," Bonow said. "Thus, health care professionals and scientists alone cannot solve them. But the community of medicine and science, when challenged and mobilized, can be a powerful force that can help to implement changes t
Contact: Carole Bullock
American Heart Association