Nebraska Women’s Health Equity Report finds health disparities for minority women


April 26, 2012

Lincoln – A report issued by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and the Women’s Health Advisory Council shows that while Nebraska is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse, women of color continue to experience disparities in deaths, health outcomes, preventive care, health care access, and social determinants of health. 

From 2007-2009, Black women in Nebraska were more likely than women of other racial/ethnic groups to die from cancer, heart disease, and stroke. American Indian women and Hispanic women were more likely to develop diabetes, and American Indian women more likely to die from the disease.

“Addressing health disparities is one of my top priorities,” said Dr. Joann Schaefer, Nebraska’s Chief Medical Officer and Director of Public Health for the Department of Health and Human Services. “While multi-cultural and ethnic issues are challenging, it’s our goal to close the gap and help more Nebraskans live healthier lives.”

Racial/ethnic minority women face greater barriers in access to health care and use of recommended preventive services. Black women were less likely to have mammograms, while Hispanic women were less likely to receive cholesterol screening than White women. Hispanic and American Indian women were less likely to report having personal doctors. Minority women were less likely to have doctor visits in the past year, due to cost.

“The socioeconomic status of women strongly influences their health and overall well-being. Striking disparities in non-completion of high school and in poverty were found in Black, American Indian and Hispanic women in Nebraska,” said Josie Rodriquez, Administrator of the DHHS Office of Health Disparities and Health Equity.

These data are consistent with a national report issued in June 2009 by the Kaiser Foundation entitled, “Putting Women’s Health Care Disparities on the Map.” That report noted that Nebraska had one of the starkest differences in rates of uninsurance between minority women and White women. Nebraska also had one of the highest disparities in lack of a personal health care provider and also lack of a high school diploma.

The DHHS Office of Health Disparities and Health Equity is improving health outcomes for culturally diverse populations through the Minority Health Initiative program. This funding is designed to encourage improved accessibility using the medical home model, and the development and enhancement of innovative health services or programming to eliminate health disparities. According to research from the Commonwealth Fund, patients who report they have a medical home are more likely to be up to date with recommended preventive services and have better management of chronic conditions.

“The Nebraska Women’s Health Equity report concludes that all sectors of the state, including the non-health care sector, play an important role in eliminating health disparities,” said Rodriquez. The report was sponsored by the Women’s Health Advisory Council in partnership with the DHHS Offices of Health Disparity and Health Equity, and Women’s and Men’s Health.

“The theme of National Minority Health Month is ‘Health Equity Can’t Wait. Act now in your CommUNITY’,” said Schaefer. “The good health of the state depends on the good health of all.”

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