The field of psychology can be supremely helpful in reducing health care disparities especially for minority individuals in America whose voices often go unheard. Findings from a 2002 medical journal stated that Spanish speaking Hispanic patients were far less likely than English speaking Hispanic patients to have had seen a physician, have a mental health visit, or get an influenza vaccine (Fiscella, Franks, Doescher, Saver, 2002). Disparities such as these can have a multitude of factors such as lack of English fluency, racial stereotypes/bias, socioeconomic status, and cultural pressures. All of which can have grave consequences for the underserved populations.
Issues that health care-related disparities can prove detrimental to many of the parties involved. According to data provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention; life-threatening illnesses such as cancer screenings, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and immunizations are just a few areas of health that show the most disparity among minority Americans (CDC, 2005). It is a dismal world we live in if mere factors such as racial bias, socioeconomic status, and English fluency are what stands between who gets to live and who does not. These life-threatening disparities should not even be present in our society but are set to only increase in the future if actions are not taken in the present.
This has been a saddening issue that has gone on for far too long in this country. Due to disparities such as these; the American Psychological Association has gone to further increase their research, education, and training so that these disparities are lessened in the future (Keita, 2012). Psychologists can reduce these horrific inequalities through the process of psychosocial research (Alder, 2009). Investigating the ties between these individuals and their society can have a lasting impact by helping surface answers to questions such as why minority status Americans are much more likely to go undiagnosed for mental health disorders than white Americans. Harshities such as racial discrimination or bias held by medical professionals may have much to do with these disparities. The research the American Psychological Association has underway can provide life-changing evidence that can help reverse these unfair trends that many individuals must face in their lives.
In conclusion, disparities and underutilization in health care exists in many different groups in American society. Minority individuals oftentimes face these harsh realities to a far greater extent than white Americans. However, different factors such as age, gender, socioeconomic status, proximity to health care providers, and cultural pressures also play a role in this underutilization and disparities. Psychological research and working in conjunction with other disciplines such as sociology and anthropology can help surface the root of the social factors that aid the development of these disparities ( Alder, 2009). The field of Psychology can have much to do with aiding in this crisis by taking part in research, interventions, and spreading awareness to the general public to bridge the gap between underserved groups in order to have a wide-reaching impact on these vulnerable populations (Keita, 2012).