New Report: Health Disparities in Connecticut: Causes, Effects, and What We Can Do

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

HARTFORD, CT -- While Connecticut ranks among the healthiest states in the country, a closer look at health data reveals major disparities by race and ethnicity – differences that result in poorer health, premature deaths, and hundreds of millions of dollars in unnecessary health care costs, according to a report from the Connecticut Health Foundation.

The report, “Health Disparities in Connecticut: Causes, Effects, and What We Can Do,” highlights data on the significant gaps in health between white residents and people of color, as well as recommendations about steps Connecticut can take to close these gaps.

“We have long known that people of color face many more barriers to good health than other state residents, and it is critical that we recognize that these disparities are not intractable. There are things we can do to address them,” said Patricia Baker, president and CEO of the Connecticut Health Foundation. “It’s important to take stock of the disparities and their causes and to identify measures that have been successful in reducing or eliminating disparities.”

Among the disparities in Connecticut:

  • Babies born to black mothers in Connecticut are more than four times as likely to die before their first birthday than babies born to white mothers.
  • Black residents are nearly four times as likely as white residents to have a diabetes-related lower-extremity amputation, and more than twice as likely to die from diabetes.
  • Compared to their white peers, black children and teens are nearly 5½ times more likely to go to the emergency department because of asthma, while Hispanic children and teens are 4½ times as likely.
  • Black men are nearly twice as likely to die from prostate cancer as white men.

Disparities have many causes, including significant gaps in insurance coverage and access to a regular health care provider, as well as differences in factors such as access to transportation, ability afford food and housing, and neighborhood safety.

However, socioeconomic status alone cannot fully explain racial and ethnic health disparities. Instead, research has identified disparate treatment within medicine – for example, black and Latino patients receive less comprehensive treatment than white patients – and negative mental and physical health consequences of experiencing discrimination and racism.

“It is clear from research that eliminating health disparities will require addressing not just access to health care coverage and care, but taking on the impact of racism, in terms of how it affects individuals and how it has shaped the structures and systems that affect all of us,” Baker said. “Often we hear about socioeconomic status as a proxy for race and ethnicity. It is important to recognize that they are not interchangeable. We must address social factors that address health, but that is not a substitute for addressing disparate treatment and structural racism.”

The report includes examples of successful work to reduce or eliminate disparities, and recommends actions for Connecticut. They are:

  • Improve data collection – to ensure health outcomes are measured and tracked by race and ethnicity – and act on the findings.
  • Focus on getting more people health care coverage.
  • Support community health workers, whose services have been shown to reduce disparities.
  • Promote clinical practice guidelines and evidence-based treatments.

The full report is available here.

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Contact:

Arielle Levin Becker
Director of Communications
Connecticut Health Foundation
arielle@cthealth.org
860-724-1580 x 16

Website: www.cthealth.org

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