239830 Recession and disparities: The impact of economic cycles on disparities in health status

Monday, October 31, 2011: 10:30 AM

Ruth G. Fesahazion , Department of Health Policy & Management, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
BACKGROUND: Economic conditions are usually the most distal determinant of outcomes. However, it is important to consider whether this distal determinant trickle down to influence health outcomes. Previous studies showed that economic conditions have an impact on health; specifically, economic recessions are followed by a general improvement in health and economic expansions negatively impact health. As this literature continues to grow, health disparities remain an unexamined part of the discussion. Racial and socioeconomic health disparities have been documented in a wide range of health outcomes. However, it is unclear whether changing economic conditions could also change health disparities as it does with general health.

DATA AND METHODS: This study uses the 1985-2009 National Health Interview Survey. By combining twenty-four years of nationally representative survey data, I used regression techniques associated with large sample sizes while accounting for complex survey design and weighting.

RESULTS TO DATE: Preliminary findings from this ongoing study show a reduction in race and socioeconomic disparities in health status, measured by hospitalizations, self-rated health, diabetes, hypertension and mental health in times of economic recessions and an increase in disparities in economic expansions.

IMPACT STATEMENT: If health and health disparities operate on a cyclical basis like the economy, it offers a unique opportunity to forecast future health need. By examining the role economic conditions have on health disparities, it can assist our decision makers in the prioritization of health resources and target health interventions on the high-risk groups that will experience a detrimental effect of a cyclical economy.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1) Identify whether racial disparities in health status widen or narrow during economic recessions and expansions. 2) Identify whether socioeconomic disparities in health status widen or narrow during economic recessions and expansions. 3) Compare whether racial or socioeconomic disparities are more influenced by economic conditions.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I have been conducting health disparities research for the past five years and have been receiving training to become a health disparities researcher.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.