Topic updated: March 2013

Multicultural Health

Life expectancy and overall health have improved in recent years for most Americans, thanks in part to an increased focus on preventive medicine and dynamic new advances in medical technology. However, not all Americans are benefiting equally. For too many racial and ethnic minorities in the United States, good health is elusive, since appropriate care is often associated with an individual's economic status, race, and gender. While Americans as a group are healthier and living longer, the nation's health status will never be as good as it can be as long as there are segments of the population with poor health status.

Compelling evidence that race and ethnicity correlate with persistent, and often increasing, health disparities among U.S. populations demands national attention. Indeed, despite notable progress in the overall health of the Nation, there are continuing disparities in the burden of illness and death experienced by blacks or African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, American Indians and Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islanders, compared to the U.S. population as a whole. The demographic changes anticipated over the next decade magnify the importance of addressing disparities in health status. Groups currently experiencing poorer health status are expected to grow as a proportion of the total U.S. population; therefore, the future health of America as a whole will be influenced substantially by improving the health of these racial and ethnic minorities. A national focus on disparities in health status is particularly important as major changes unfold in the way in which health care is delivered and financed.

Current information about the biologic and genetic characteristics of minority populations does not explain the health disparities experienced by these groups compared with the white, non-Hispanic population in the United States. These disparities are believed to be the result of the complex interaction among genetic variations, environmental factors, and specific health behaviors.

Read more on minority health issues at the CDC Office of Minority Health.

HealthyNJ also offers pages with links to health information for: African Americans, Asian Americans, Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual-Transgendered, Native Americans, Rural Residents, Urban Residents, and Veterans.

Asian medical woman  checking man

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