Cardiovascular Heath Disparities and Structural Competency

By: Alexander Martinez Lopez

The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the health care landscape, highlighting an even larger issue of racial/ethnic disparities in health. Rates of adverse outcomes related to COVID-19 can be mapped into zip codes, showing how socioeconomically disadvantaged communities are more vulnerable towards this virus. Some of these individuals don’t possess the option to social distance as they live in multifamily or multigenerational housings. Others have jobs who expose them to the virus, or don’t receive the appropriate income for them to access adequate medical care.

Structural competency is an emerging ideal in health care. It seeks to expand the medical approaches from the biology and behaviors into a bigger picture, addressing the socioeconomical disadvantages that produce unjust health conditions. Fostering health care professionals to recognize, analyze, and intervene upon the structural factors that impact health disparities. Current research suggests that lower levels of educational attainment are associated with a higher prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors, higher incidence of cardiovascular events, and higher cardiovascular mortality. Implementing this structural competency paradigm, which applies to all areas of health care, along with further research of these social determinants of health in cardiovascular health could potentially address the health disparities in cardiovascular disease patients.

Our media project is focused on bringing awareness to the relationship between mental health and cardiovascular disease. It aims to inform non-scientific individuals on how their state of mind can influence and impact their heart health. Not only cultivating a sense of awareness but also ways to protect their heart and mind. Even though this media project is guided towards the non-scientific community, it could be valuable for some health care practitioners as we highlight how socioeconomic factors can also influence this relationship. Metrics are highly important for us to address our videos overall impact. We will utilize pre- and post- surveys to determine if our research was easily understood and will cause a behavioral change.

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