Tag Archives: health disparities

From #ahcj15 back to the beat: Covering disparities in health

Susan Heavey

About Susan Heavey

Susan Heavey, (@susanheavey) a Washington, D.C.-based journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on social determinants of health and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on resources and tip sheets at determinants@healthjournalism.org.

At a conference, it all seems easy. So many ideas, so many enthusiastic colleagues, so many potential stories.

lisa-aliferis-ahcj15

Kris Hickman/AHCJ Lisa Aliferis, editor of KQED-San Francisco’s health blog, asks a question after hearing from physician and bestselling author Abraham Verghese, M.D., on the opening night of Health Journalism 2015.

With nearly four days packed with sessions, there’s no shortage of new contacts, resources and data. But now what?

Where should reporters start in trying to dissect their material into something usable, especially when it comes to the great wide territory of social determinants and health care? Continue reading

Oral health disparities persist despite advances in prevention #ahcj14

Kelsey Ryan

About Kelsey Ryan

Kelsey Ryan (on Twitter, @kelsey_ryan) covers health care for The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle. She is a 2014 AHCJ Rural Health Journalism Fellow.

Photo by Pia ChristensenJonathan Bowser of the University of Colorado School of Medicine called oral health “the low-hanging fruit of primary care prevention.”

Photo by Pia ChristensenJonathan Bowser of the University of Colorado School of Medicine called oral health “the low-hanging fruit of primary care prevention.”

In 2007, a 12-year-old Maryland boy named Deamonte Driver died from a tooth infection that spread to his brain. His family had lost Medicaid coverage and an $80 tooth extraction might have saved his life, wrote Washington Post staff writer Mary Otto, whose story helped spotlight oral health disparities.

Oral disease is a disease of poverty, said Diane Brunson, R.D.H., M.P.H., director of public health and interprofessional education at the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine, during a session called “Covering disparities in oral health,” at Health Journalism 2014 in Denver. Continue reading

Minority population swells in nursing homes

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

In The Providence Journal, reporter and AHCJ board member Felice Freyer reports on the local effects of the national trend toward higher proportions of minority residents in nursing homes. In addition to the logistical concerns raised by this demographic shift, Freyer also explores what it says about health disparities and access to care in minority communities.

Faces of agingFreyer’s report is built on a Brown University study published in the July edition of Health Affairs. As you may know, free access to Health Affairs is one of the many benefits that come with your AHCJ membership.

… between 1999 and 2008, the number of Hispanics and Asians living in U.S. nursing homes grew by 54.9 percent and 54.1 percent, respectively, while the number of whites dropped 10.2 percent.

These numbers reflect the changing demographic profile of elderly people, whose ranks include growing numbers of blacks, Hispanics and Asians. But the researchers say their findings also raise questions about whether minority-group members have poorer access to assisted-living and community-based care. The question may be especially relevant as states such as Rhode Island strive to “rebalance” the long-term system to favor home-based care over institutional care.

Freyer’s story also includes data from Brown’s LTCfocus.org site, a handy tool for sorting and visualizing data related to long term care and nursing homes.

Dental health care disparities overlooked

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Guy Boulton of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigates the “lack of access to dental care for children and adults on limited incomes,” calling it “one of the most entrenched, widespread and overlooked problems of the U.S. health care system.”

AHCJ resources
Eric Eyre, who did award-winning coverage of West Virginia’s dental health problem, shares his insights and reporting methods, as well as starting points and key sources. Eyre’s article includes a link to a questionnaire about how the story was reported, a dentist’s presentation on the “Status of Oral and Visual Health in Rural America” from AHCJ’s 2008 Rural Health Journalism Workshop and an MP3 of the discussion at that workshop.

In Wisconsin, Boulton reports, the state Medicaid program for low-income families pays less than private insurers and is thus accepted by few dentists around the state. Boulton takes an in-depth look at the deficiencies of the state program and of HMOs and finds that the state’s not yet doing enough to address the problem.

Among the things Bouton discovered: “The results can be seen in young adults: 42% of all new military recruits cannot be deployed until they receive dental care.”