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Harvard School of Public Health

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Spring 2 2007

Dr. W. Byrd, Dr. J. Betancourt, Dr. L. Clayton, Dr. B. Gibbs, Dr. D. Prothrow-Stith, Dr. V. Stone
2.5 credits
Lecture, case studies, seminars. One 2.5-hour session each week

This course comprehensively explores racial and ethnic disparities in health and health care in the United States. It examines the relationships between race, medicine, and health care while establishing the origins and evolution of race-, class-, ethnic-, gender-, and cultural-based disparities as critical measures and dilemmas in the U.S. health system and its predecessor Western societies. Students will gain an understanding of the key operational variables impacting health disparities that are deeply ingrained in the medical-social fabric of the U.S. health system. Utilizing the African American health experience as a principal surrogate, alongside the experiences of other disadvantaged and immigrant populations, the course chronicles the 400- year continuum leading to the contemporary racial and ethnic health and health care disparities. It makes the connection between the nation's historical tradition of disparate health and health care based on race, ethnicity, and class and today's burgeoning health services literature on the subject. Leading causes of morbidity and mortality, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and AIDS which differentially impact health status and outcomes in disadvantaged communities, and how an already stressed health system responds to them, will be explored and contextualized. Building upon a fact-based foundation the course will also provide a forum for conceptualizing and developing new paradigms and strategies for eliminating racial and ethnic health and health care disparities through methods such as health policy, health system restructuring and reform, and cross cultural skills development. Students will develop culturally relevant, sensitive, and appropriate cross-cultural skills necessary to recognize personal and institutionalized bias which interferes with clinical decision-making, health policy, and health system structural development, all of which impact health status.
Course Activities: Lectures, discussions, case studies, presentations, and experiential formats.
Course Note: No auditors. (6.06)



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