Date of Award

Spring 5-7-2015

Degree Type

Dissertation/Thesis

Degree Name

B.S.

Department

Biological Sciences

Faculty Advisor

Zach W. Brewster

Abstract

Access to healthcare is very important in today's society, as is the quality of said healthcare. The socioeconomic status (SES) of an individual is the most important factor when it comes to determining both the accessibility and quality of said care, and as such has been studied extensively. Across different countries, lower SES has been linked to the decreased affordability and success rates of medical treatments such as coronary heart disease medication or health risk prevention regimes. In many cases, low SES patients were found to be less likely to seek treatment than higher SES patients as the debt they could face was a worse punishment than an untreated illness. Additionally, many researchers have studied the effects of SES on how the patient and physician interact, finding that a larger discrepancy between the two leads to a less cooperative relationship and overall less productive medical care. This is due to social class stratification and the perception of prestige leading to increased frequency of authoritative interactions with less agency expressed by the patient in their own treatment. One recent example of action towards reducing the impact of SES on healthcare quality is the Affordable Care Act passed within the United States, which aimed to increase affordability of healthcare insurance for the underprivileged. Other mechanisms for change include funding the development of cheaper treatments, tax adjustments based on SES, and educating physicians and patients alike on the dynamics of their interactions in an attempt to facilitate adjustments.

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