An Analysis on Varying Opportunity

Here at MedEq, we strive for the pursuit of a health care system in which everyone is able to gain readily available access to health care.  Unfortunately, social dogma has led to polarized socio-economical regulation in the public health industry.  For example, it is apparent and well-documented that African American women face higher levels of morbidity and mortality as opposed to European American women (Shulz). Deciphering such a complicated social dilemma can be daunting at the surface but we can analyze it by investigating a major contributor, ethnicity. To actualize the issue, a study-based survey was administered in Detroit by the East Side Village Health Worker Partnership under the auspices of the Detroit Community-Academic Urban Research Center (URC). The hypothesis for this study went as follows:  

"The cumulative effects of differentials in socioeconomic status, experiences with unfair treatment or discrimination and acute life events will be associated with racial differences in women's health status (Schulz et. al)."

The guidelines of the survey proceed as follows:

-Data for this study are drawn from two surveys conducted in the Detroit metropolitan area in 1995 and 1996. In 1996 a survey was conducted with 700 women aged 18 and older living in a geographically defined area on the east side of Detroit who care for children under 18 years of age at least five hours a week.


-This survey (hereafter referred to as the VHW survey) was conducted in a geographically defined area on the east side of Detroit which is highly segregated by race (96% African American) and where 37% of all families and 65% of female headed families with children live below the poverty line.

-Households were randomly selected from a listing of all households in the defined area and, if more than one woman in a selected household met the eligibility criteria, respondents were randomly selected from the eligible members within the household. The response rate for this survey was 80%, with 97% of respondents self-reporting their race/ethnicity as African American.

-The analyses reported in this paper use only African American and white female respondents from this survey (397 African American and 296 white women; 333 of the African American female respondents lived within the Detroit city limits and 64 lived outside the city.

The pool of information generated from this study far exceeds what has been briefly presented.  The synopsis however, is that European American women have a better “well-being” than African American women in major socio-determinants such as education, income, health and treatment.  Another major issue that is brought up in this study is the prevalence of single motherhood in the City of Detroit. Extrapolated from the data and guidelines, 60% of children live in single-mothered families. Most of said mothers have no college education and are living below the poverty line consequently lowering their access to health care. Single motherhood is another major issue that we must consider when combating health disparities in the City of Detroit. The study's hypothesis rendered out being true, unfortunately, that racial differences yield unfair treatment and discrimination in Detroit. Now that these issues are locally defined, drastic measures must be taken to provide equal opportunity to all walks of life-to provide equity.


Health and Behavior: The Interplay of Biological, Behavioral, and Societal Influences. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Health and Behavior: Research, Practice, and Policy. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2001.

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