The United States is one of the most diverse countries in the world and this blending of peoples creates challenges to health care systems. Historically much of the discussion of the quality of healthcare focused on the outcomes of patients receiving care. With a rise in the penetration of managed care, healthcare systems have adapted to focus more broadly on the "populations" for which they are responsible, both those receiving and those not yet seeking or receiving services. Accompanying this shift in health care financing has been an increased recognition of the importance of a public health focus and the adoption of a national agenda of eliminating health disparities. This new focus has prompted an interest in developing more effective outreach strategies to "underserved populations." However, successfully meeting this goal is prima-facie dependent on understanding and defining the populations not being served. Much of the health care literature defines "underserved populations" as groups whose demographic, geographic, or economic characteristics impede or prevent their access to health care services. Unfortunately, this definition offers little guidance for a health care system seeking to develop outreach activities. Questions such as, "what demographic variables are of particular concern?", "how to define geographic barriers?", or "what level of income to establish?", therefore, remain undefined. Tools are needed to help develop descriptive definitions of "underserved" populations that vary by the region, state, city, or neighborhood. Utilization of these methods can help guide organizations in implementing successful outreach activities.
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, the participants in this session will be able to: Understand the inclusive and exclusive nature of current terms and phrases for underserved populations; and Articulate a community-appropriate definition of underserved populations
Keywords: Community Outreach, Underserved Populations
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: None
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.
The 128th Annual Meeting of APHA