Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2016

Abstract

Using a modified social ecological model, we conducted a review of the literature and nationwide statistics on African American health. We discuss the main social determinants of health and main health disparities, risk factors, the leading causes of morbidity and mortality, and access to health services for blacks in the USA. The mechanisms through which social determinants, including racism, exert their deleterious effects on black health are discussed at the macro and individual levels. Incarceration and mental health care issues are highlighted as priorities to be addressed. African Americans remain the least healthy ethnic group in the USA, a somber legacy of years of racial and social injustice and a formidable challenge to equitable health care for all. Systemic causes of suboptimal black health require equally systemic solutions; positive trends in black health indicators seem to be driven by social development programs, economic investment in education, participation of African Americans in policy, and decision-making and expansion of access to health care.

Publisher's Statement

Originally published in Public Health Reviews, 37 [Article 12]. Licensed under CC BY 4.0. doi:10.1186/s40985-016-0025-4

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