CV Health disparities and structural competencies 

By: Madelyn Terhune

Structural Competency is a newer approach that helps to educate health professionals on the relationship between social determinates of health and symptom expressions. It is important to teach this because there are many inequalities in the health care system and many disorders disproportionately affect minorities. Minority groups are actually at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Marginalized communities are often faced with less access to health care facilities or are apart of low socioeconomic status, so they are not able to afford treatment or a healthier lifestyle. Having higher stress because of a lack of resources or feeling of safety can lead to an even higher risk of heart disease. There has always been inequality in the multiple systems in the US and in recent times the pandemic has made that clearer to a lot of people.  With the current coronavirus pandemic more people have seen who is more impacted by this virus and which populations have more preexisting conditions. With structural competency, we can find better methods of identifying and targeting inequalities and finding ways to prevent them. In order to improve the healthcare system, it is important to improve healthcare for all and minimize the social determinants of health that are occurring.

In my group’s summer media project, we are talking about the connection between mental health and cardiovascular disease and how some populations are more affected than others. We will be informing our audience of different inequalities caused by the social determinants of health. Specifically, I will be talking about how stress has an impact on hypertension. Many minority communities are faced with chronic stressors like socioeconomic status and racism. Chronic stress can lead to heart problems like hypertension. For our audience, we are not specifically targeting health professionals, but our hope is that by educating the public we can minimize the stigmas that are attached to mental health and create a change. In terms of how to evaluate, I think implementing pre- and post-surveys to the audience about what they previously knew and what they learned will be a good way to measure. I think it would be a good way to see if they learned anything new and it would be interesting to see what and how much people already know about social determinants of health.

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