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CDC Health Disparities Report

CDC and its partners work to identify and address the factors that lead to health disparities among racial, ethnic, geographic, socioeconomic, and other groups so that barriers to health equity can be removed. The first step in this process is to shine a bright light on the problems to be solved. Providing accurate, useful data on the causes of illness and death in the United States and across the world is a foundation of CDC’s mission and work.

The CDC Health Disparities and Inequalities Report – United States, 2013, published in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), is the second consolidated assessment that highlights health disparities and inequalities across a wide range of diseases, behavioral risk factors, environmental exposures, social determinants, and health-care access by sex, race and ethnicity, income, education, disability status and other social characteristics. It provides new data for 19 of the topics published in 2011 and presents 10 new topics.

The report provides analysis and reporting of recent trends and ongoing variations in health disparities and inequalities for selected social and health indicators. This is important for encouraging action and facilitating accountability to reduce modifiable disparities by using interventions that are effective and scalable. The report also underscores the need for more consistent data on population characteristics that have often been lacking in health surveys such as disability status and sexual orientation.

Disparities Examined

The latest report looks at disparities in deaths and illness, use of health care, behavioral risk factors for disease, environmental hazards, and social determinants of health at the national level. This year’s report contains 10 new topics including activity limitations due to chronic diseases, asthma attacks, fatal and nonfatal work-related injuries and illnesses, health-related quality of life, periodontists in adults, residential proximity to major highways, tuberculosis, access to healthier foods, and unemployment.

Report Supports National Disparities Elimination Efforts

The information provided in the report is of vital importance in achieving the goals of Healthy People 2020External and the National Partnership for Action (NPA) to End Health DisparitiesExternal. CDC’s report also complements the annual National Healthcare Disparities ReportExternal and the periodic reports related to Healthy People 2020.

Action to Reduce Disparities

The data presented throughout the report provide a compelling argument for action. Some articles identify promising programs and interventions for reducing the burden of disease or risk factors for a specific health problem.

Reducing disparities requires national leadership to engage a diverse array of stakeholders; facilitate coordination and alignment among federal departments, agencies, offices, and non-federal partners; champion the implementation of effective policies and programs; and ensure accountability (2).

CDC and its partners can use the findings in this report to raise awareness and understanding of which groups are most vulnerable. The findings also can help motivate increased efforts to intervene at the state, tribal, and local levels to best address health disparities and inequalities.

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