NURS 6052 WK 4 Response 2
The health of our nation also has continued to improve overall because of resources devoted to health education, public health programs, health research, and health care. The ethical problem is that these improvements have not been equally beneficial to all. A major concern still exists about the accessibility of health care as a determinant of people’s ability to use and pay for care. Studies often fail to address the disparities in risk factors, access, and utilization according to race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status (Hoffman et al, 1998). Cancers, and head and neck cancers disproportionately and adversely affect African Americans (Moore et al, 2012).
I researched an article studying the impact of disparities has on Head and Neck cancers. Early detection is key to reducing incidence of this preventable cancer. It is critical to direct head and neck cancer screening programs towards high-risk populations, specifically those that include men, people with a history of tobacco and/or alcohol dependence, and people of low socioeconomic status (Hashibe, Jacob, & Thomas, 2003). Underserved populations are concentrated in urban areas but are also often found in rural areas. In both cases, access to health care services can be difficult at best, not only because of the cost, but also because of a lack of transportation. Moreover, low-cost preventive health care is often nonexistent.
Moral principles—including the principles of beneficence (we should act to benefit others), nonmaleficence (we should act to avoid harming others), and justice are up for debate. Health disparities surely do not benefit the individuals on the losing side of the disparities, violating the principle of beneficence. Health disparities instead can be said to be a significant harm in the form of poorer health, pain and suffering, and shorter life spans, violating the principle of nonmaleficence. Further, principles of justice involve the notion of equity or equal access. Health disparities violate equity in that many citizens in our country suffer from significantly lower health outcomes based on their race/ethnicity or class.
Hashibe, M., Jacob, B.J., Thomas, G. (2003) Socioeconomic status, lifestyle
Factors and oral premalignant lesions. Oral Oncology. 39(7), 664-671.
Hoffman, H.T., Karnell, L.H., Funk, G.F. (1998) The national cancer data base
Report on cancer of the head and neck. Arch Otolaryngology Head Neck
Surgery. 124(9), 951-962.
Moore, C.E., Warren, R., Maclin, S. (2012) Head and neck cancer disparity in
Underserved communities: Probable causes and ethics involved.
Meharry Medical College. 23(4), 117-123.
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