It seems that there is a disparity of health between white Americans and black Americans, where black Americans are, on average, less healthy in almost every department than white Americans. The Dressler reading discusses five theoretical models that could act as explanations for the disparity in health.
· Racial-genetic model:
o In essence, white Americans are healthier than black Americans because black Americans are genetically more prone to low birth weight and high blood pressure.
· Health-behavior model:
o This model is based on the idea that white American and black American health behaviors, like smoking, exercise and eating, are different. The health disparity is caused by the difference in behaviors between white Americans and black Americans.
· Socioeconomic status model:
o The disparity in health between black Americans and white Americans is caused by the disparity in socioeconomic status (i.e. income level, social class, education, etc.)
· Psychosocial stress model:
o Summed up, stress caused from the racism that black Americans endure causes their health to diminish to a lower average level to white Americans.
· Structural-constructivist model:
o People of the same culture come to value similar aspirations, such as becoming wealthy or enjoying a peaceful existence. In our case, we also have a socially constructed concept of race. Sometimes, the social construction of race interferes with some people’s aspirations and this causes the health disparity. I would imagine the phenomenon would be much more subtle, but an example would be a black man wanting to obtain the prestigious status of USA president, but believing that he can never achieve his goal because there have only ever been white presidents (the year that the example takes place in is 1998)
Now, the reading makes mention of why most of these models are flawed, but, for what it’s worth, which one gives the most likely explanation for the health disparity between black Americans and white Americans?
Previous to the article, I believed that socioeconomic status was the main contributor to the disparity. I had thought that the lower levels of socioeconomic status contributed to lower health because money was a bigger issue and when one’s strapped for cash, the cheaper alternatives usually outweigh the healthier choices.