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Diversity and disparities in health and health care

Release Date: March 8, 2011
Contact: Lisa Hildebrand - 608.442.3765 lisa.hildebrand@wismed.org

Madison, Wis. (March 8, 2011) – Two studies in the current issue of WMJ (Vol. 110, No. 1) examine diversity issues in health care. Maternity care and cancer prevention are addressed.

“Culturally Specific Maternity Care in Wisconsin” stresses the need for physicians and other health care professionals to be knowledgeable about each woman’s culture, race and ethnicity, and the unique risks each woman may bring to her pregnancy. Because of significant health disparities in maternity care in the United States, the authors discuss the cultural and ethnic issues that may impact the care women receive.

“Understanding the unique characteristics of each pregnant patient may improve care and reduce disparities,” according to the article, which provides information about the African American, Latina, Hmong and Amish cultures. The article is written by family medicine physicians at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and at UW clinics in Wausau and Eau Claire.

Another article focuses on breast cancer-related health disparities in Wisconsin. The authors compared trends in breast cancer outcomes in African American and white women from 1995 to 2006 using state and national data. While breast cancer incidence and death rates both declined between 1998 and 2006, African American women still experience a higher mortality rate, the authors wrote.

Continued evaluation and research is necessary to understand the causes of disparities in breast cancer outcomes, barriers to prevention, screening and treatment, and obstacles to involving minorities in clinical trials, they said.

Published by the Wisconsin Medical Society, WMJ is devoted to the interests of the medical profession and health care in the Midwest. The peer-reviewed publication, which is available in print and electronic format, is one of the few state medical society-sponsored medical journals that publish a large amount of original research and academic content.

With nearly 12,500 members dedicated to the best interests of their patients, the Society is the largest association of medical doctors in the state and has been a trusted source for health policy leadership since 1841. For details, visit www.wisconsinmedicalsociety.org.

All articles published in the WMJ represent the views of the authors, for which neither WMJ nor the Wisconsin Medical Society take responsibility, unless clearly stated.