The Graduate Review


Health disparities are a persistent reality for minority groups in the United States with serious, and sometimes lethal, consequences. The disparate rates of preterm births and infant mortality between African-American and Caucasian women is a well-documented but largely unaddressed occurrence falling into this category. The complex systems that contribute to the perpetuation of this health disparity are explored with particular attention to the intersection of race, culture and socioeconomic status. The influence of personal health beliefs and often-over-emphasized role of behavior are also investigated in an effort to examine why there has been an inadequate response to this problem in the research, medical and social work disciplines. Several avenues showing promise to address the structural and institutional racism at the root of this health disparity are outlined, and the ethical responsibility of social workers to confront this heath disparity is a final point of discussion.

Note on the Author

Catherine Cooper is pursuing her Master of Social Work after working in social services for many years. Initial research for this project was completed under the supervision of Dr. Barbara Bond in the summer of 2017, and revisions were completed under the mentorship of Dr. Jeffrey Steen in the fall of 2017. Catherine will be graduating in May 2019 and plans to pursue her clinical license while working in the field.

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