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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Laura Anderko, RN, PhD (Georgetown University)
Description: This book presents historical perspectives of racial disparities in medical care, and possible interventions to eliminate healthcare disparities.
Purpose: The purpose is to help others proceed in their efforts to improve the "disparities situation," and "to raise the reader's level of consciousness and concern and to increase the knowledge base about the issues." These are worthy objectives, which the book achieves in many, but not all, of the chapters.
Audience: This book is intended, and I believe appropriate, for all those interested in the field of health and healthcare, with an emphasis on those in the medical profession in chapters authored by the editor.
Features: One of the most persistent patterns observed since the 12th century is that those in the lowest socioeconomic status groups have the highest rates of morbidity and mortality. Many chapters in this book address the complex nature of healthcare disparities and provide a serious look at how to overcome them in the U.S. Chapters authored by the editor provide a much weaker, less researched, version of information than that presented by the other authors. His focus on the medical profession (as opposed to all health professionals) limits the scope of applicability of the material presented. Additionally, his focus on African Americans limits the scope and magnitude of the issues impacting disparities in healthcare.
Assessment: Although the book offers some innovative strategies for exploring health disparities (e.g., Krieger et al., and geocoding) as well as the politics that have prevented universal health care (Bigby), its failure to take a global perspective, comparing the U.S. with other industrialized nations, provides a narrow viewpoint and one that fundamentally misses the mark.