Health behaviors that lead to health
Health behavior can be defined as the knowledge, practices
and attitudes that stimulate the actions we take regarding health (LaVeist,
2005). There are at least three subcomponents of health behavior. These are
risk behavior, preventative behavior and illness behavior. To define, risk
behavior are the actions that a person may engage in that have the ability to
increase the likelihood of developing a disease, injury or disability in the
future. Preventative behavior are the actions that individuals may engage in
that have the ability to reduce one’s chances of developing a disease,
sustaining an injury or disability in the future. Lastly, illness behavior
refers to actions that individuals take when faced with an illness (LaVeist,
Health behaviors may lead to health disparities and
inequities. Within the illness health behavior subcomponent, studies have shown
that racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to delay seeking care
compared to their Caucasian counterparts. Stigma associated with treatment of
certain diseases is among the most often cited reason for delaying care within
minority populations (LaVeist, 2005).
Within the preventative behavior subcomponent, when
comparing inactivity levels within all races, it was found that inactivity
levels were higher for Hispanic men as well as black men. The high level of
inactivity could be due to increased crime rates within these communities which
could limit the time spent outside due to safety reasons (LaVeist, 2005). In
fact, a study found that in low socioeconomic neighborhoods, parental anxiety
was higher in regard to outside children activities, when compared to their
suburban counterparts (LaVeist & Isaac, 2013). Higher levels of physical inactivity have been
found to increase one’s likelihood of obesity, chronic conditions, and higher
medical costs (Lindgren, Freedman, Engell, Fleming, Lim, Murray & Mokdad,
Federal policies addressing health
Federal policies have a direct
effect on health disparities. Specifically, this can be seen through the
passing of the Affordable Care Act in 2014. Through the Affordable Care Acts
health insurance coverage expansions through Medicaid and the Marketplace,
health insurance coverage has increased for individuals of low socioeconomic
class. Research has shown that health insurance coverage has a substantial
effect on whether an individual receives regular medical care and preventative
care (Artiga, Ubri & Foutz, 2017).
Another way that federal policies
address health disparities can be see through the introduction of the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic
Health Disparities. The action plan promotes five major goals which range from
transforming healthcare, advancing the health and wellbeing of all American
populations, and increasing the efficiency and accountability of the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services programs (Jackson & Gracia, 2014).
State and local policies addressing
state level, Kansas is finding ways to address and reduce health disparities.
An example of this can be seen through the state funded scholarship program for
undergraduate students who have been accepted and or enrolled in an accredited
medical school in pursuit of becoming a doctor of osteopathic medicine. Students
who receive this scholarship must agree to practice medicine in a rural or
medically underserved area upon completion of their medical degree (National
Conference of State Legislatures, 2014). Through this scholarship, the state of
Kansas is hoping to bring in more physicians to those areas that need them the
also addressing health disparities at the state level. In fact, Missouri is
among other states who have implemented an Office of Minority Health. The
Missouri Office of Minority Health works to eliminate disparities through the awareness
of health, strategic partnerships and community engagement (National Conference
of State Legislatures, 2014).
local level, The Wyandotte Health for All taskforce works to improve the health
Wyandotte county. This is done by promoting educational programs, policies, and
local research. The Wyandotte Health for All taskforce also aims to limit
health disparities within the county (Connor, 2012).