‘Avoidable’ Deaths Account for Large Part of Black, White Mortality Gap, Study Finds
Preventable or treatable deaths contribute to a large portion of the mortality gap between blacks and whites, according to a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. For the study, researcher James Macinko of the University of Pennsylvania and colleagues looked at diabetes, stroke, infectious and respiratory diseases, preventable cancers and circulatory diseases such as high-blood pressure (Chicago Sun-Times, 4/27).
Deaths from such preventable or treatable conditions -- or "avoidable mortality," which is defined as death under age 65 from conditions responsive to medical care, changes in public policy or behaviors -- accounted for nearly 70% of the black-white mortality gap from 1980 to 2005, researchers said. Avoidable death represented about 30% of the gap for men and 42% for women.
Macinko said in a statement, "Our study shows that while much progress has been made, our health care system is still failing to meet the very basic needs of some Americans. Many disparities can be conquered by focusing more on public policies that promote prevention and by ensuring that all Americans have access to good quality health care." He added, "People should not be dying prematurely from stroke, hypertension, diabetes, colon cancer, appendicitis or the flu" (United Press International, 4/27).
An abstract of the study is available online.