There are many communities that can be legitimately regarded as underserved. Often time, the needs and plight of such communities are overlooked unintentionally. The classification isn’t just based on individual traits in the natural societal setup — such as ethnicity, race, age or gender; it is also determined by a host of circumstances, which often subject some demographic entities to encounter more serious challenges with regard to health. There are many well-known and respected sources that project underserved communities on the basis of vulnerability. The American Journal of Managed Care (2006) points out that vulnerable groups constitute racial and ethnic minorities, economically deprived or disadvantaged people, uninsured populations, the elderly, low income children, homeless people, severely mentally ill people, those infected by HIV and people with various chronic ailments and conditions. Rural folks that find it hard to access healthcare services are included in the group. Health care issues interact with such social factors as lack of housing, education and poverty. Each jurisdiction tends to have such underrepresented and underserved groups. The methods that can be applied to identify such groups are discussed in later sections. Some groups in the population are likely to be vulnerable health wise, owing to socio economic reasons, which are separate from the inherent personal traits. Such reasons include lack of access to healthcare services and scarce housing facilities that are befitting to various cycles of life. The built environment renders a preventive strategy and targets both systemic and the factors that are not inherent to have an impact on the health of these populations. Policies that are sensitive to fair access to such services and health equity could potentially cut down the numbers of people in underserved populations.
Readiness and Personal Experiences
After collecting data that relates to populations that are considered vulnerable, I reckon that the designation applies to a wider scope of population than I thought at first. Before this research, I depicted the underserved or vulnerable populations as constituting largely those that are uneducated and live below or at the poverty level, and ethnic minorities. I now understand that disparities in health apply to a wider scope in the population. For instance, the GBLT group is a set that was never on my radar for the underserved. According to McKirnan et al., stigma may cause such a group to fail or avoid seeking medical services. Morbidity may also be predicated by lack of disclosure of the sexual orientation, owing to the implications for the treatment and transmission of HIV / AIDS and STIs. A deeper understanding that educational, cultural and geographical barriers are not the sole determinants of vulnerability will assist me in the process of assessing the needs of my patients. There is literature that points to the fact that disparities and health care outcomes are linked with unintentional and often unconscious bias by health care providers. Such bias may lead to poor relationship between the healthcare giver and the patient. It is important that healthcare givers develop self-awareness and the capacity to ignore stereotypical comments regarding patients. This empowers the healthcare giver to serve without bias or prejudice. Healthcare givers need to come to grips with the stigmas, discrimination, and intolerance that such groups encounter. Such stereotyping, I believe has a link with people’s avoidance of healthcare. Vulnerability will reduce as soon as we eliminate bias. It is not easy to work with underserved people. It calls for one to scratch beneath the surface to understand the undercurrents and circumstances that affect these populations. Many of the members in this set were born in low social strata and are striving to break the jinx of poverty. The myriad of health ailments, a poor quality of life and lack of education make their efforts to break out poverty much more difficult. Socially disadvantaged groups are not the most attractive sets of people for most healthcare providers. This is because the diseases that afflict them are hard to tackle, owing to poor compliance rates to treatment, hence a higher treatment failure. Yet, there are still many doctors and other healthcare providers that are focused on such underserved groups. Creativity in the delivery of scarce resources to needy groups is a clarion call that will lead to expanding the workforce in the care systems. There is need for diversity among providers to cater for the diversity of the needs of patients.
McKirnan, D. J., Du Bois, S. N., Alvy, L. M., & Jones, K. (2013). Health care access and health behaviors among men who have sex with men the cost of health disparities. Health Education and Behavior, 40(1), 32-41. doi: 10.1177/1090198111436340
The American Journal of Managed Care [AJMC]. (2006). Vulnerable populations: Who are they? American Journal of Managed Care, 12(13), 348-532.
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