NAT - health disparities

Indianapolis, Kansas City and Houston to serve as pilot sites to evaluate health promotion interventions

A recent study by the National Urban League Policy Institute found that health disparities cost the U.S. economy $82.2 billion in 2009, $60 billion in health care spending and $22.2 billion in lost productivity. Left alone, costs associated with chronic health conditions facing certain ethnic groups are expected to soar to $363 billion in 2050 as the U.S. population grows increasingly diverse.

With a common goal of eliminating health disparities in the African-American community, Anthem Inc., the National Urban League, City of Hope and Pfizer Inc. have teamed up to create Take Action for Health, a unique initiative focused on reducing some of the greatest health risks facing the African-American community today: breast cancer, heart disease and emotional well-being.

Take Action for Health strives to increase mammograms, blood pressure screenings, and screenings for depression and anxiety-risk in an effort to catch these health conditions early while they are more treatable. For example, African-American women have the lowest breast cancer survival rate of all ethnic and racial groups, according to the American Cancer Society, and one potential reason may be because they are diagnosed with more advanced or later stage breast cancer.

National Urban League affiliates in Indianapolis, Kansas City and Houston will serve as the pilot sites for 300 participants to attend onsite Urban League wellness programs and test a newly created interactive website that will encourage key health screenings, address barriers, provide information on low and no cost services, empower participants to track their screenings, and make it easy to share information with their health care teams, family and friends. Participants in the Take Action for Health pilot study will take two online surveys – one now and a second one in September – that will measure self-reported screening behaviors, satisfaction with the website and level of empowerment regarding their health care.

“This pilot is a critically important extension of the National Urban League’s programming, advocacy and innovation around eliminating health disparities and addressing the social determinants of health in the communities we serve,” said Hal Smith, senior vice president of Education and Health at The National Urban League. “Partners such as City of Hope, Pfizer and Anthem match our commitment to these goals and to meaningfully improve the health and wellness of vulnerable populations and advancing impactful community health as we develop and refine leading-edge approaches, supports and content.”

“Addressing health disparities begins with understanding they are steeped in complex issues that bridge cultural stigmas, socioeconomic challenges and a variety of risk factors,” said Craig Samitt, M.D., executive vice president and chief clinical officer at Anthem. “Today for example, we are witnessing the alarming impact breast cancer is having on African-American women; Take Action for Health will not only help us better understand why our communities are at risk, but also empower individuals and their families to overcome obstacles to take control of their health.”

Results from the pilot study will be made publicly available in early 2017 along with the Take Action for Health website.