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Disparity in Death Rate Tends: Implications for Public Health Management

Author: PETER J. FOS, VAFA KAMALI and MIGUEL A. ZUNIGA
Published in PAM, Vol. 12 No. 2

Disparity in health outcomes and health status has been studied for many years. The effect of disparities in mortality is of particular interest. A significant volume of research has focused on disparity in mortality with respect to the influence of race, sex, education, occupation and geographic area of residence.
This study was conducted to evaluate death rates in Mississippi over a 10-year period of time and the disparities that are present. Comparisons were made across several causes of death with respect to the influence of race, gender and geography. Trends in disparity were studied, along with resultant implications for public health policy and practice.

Results of this study were that males have a higher death rate than females. This finding also occurred within races. Overall, Whites had a significantly higher death rate when compared to Nonwhites. When geographic area of residence was studied, a large disparity in death rates across the State was observed. Disparity was not consistent in specific causes of death, with Whites having higher deaths rates due to heart disease, malignant neoplasms, cerebrovascular disease, emphysema and pneumonia. Nonwhites had higher death rates for, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, infant mortality, neonatal mortality, and post-neonatal mortality. The observed disparities were constant over the 10-year study period.
Implications of this study include (a) disparities have not changed over 10 years, so disparity elimination programs have not succeed, (b) disparity elimination strategies must be based on creative and new approaches, and c) health policy initiatives must be developed to address the specificity of the influence of disparities on death rates.

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