Health Disparities, Social Class, and Aging

Keith E. Whitfield, Roland Thorpe, Sarah Szanton

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter discusses previous research on the interrelationships between health disparities, social class, and aging as they relate to psychological dimensions of the human condition. Health disparities are described as differences in the incidence, prevalence, mortality, burden of diseases, and other adverse health conditions or outcomes between minority and majority population groups. Health disparities have been observed in gender, age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status (SES), geography, sexual orientation, disability, and special health care needs. Disparities occur among groups who have persistently experienced historical trauma, social disadvantage, or discrimination, and systematically experience worse health or greater health risks than more advantaged social groups. Therefore, to understand the psychology of aging for ethnic and social minority groups, it draws from disciplines that include medical, biomedical, sociology, public health, and the humanities. Studies examining the association between educational histories and health indicators are limited, but have the potential to provide important and fine distinctions in understanding SES disparities in health outcomes. © 2011

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook of the Psychology of Aging
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9780123808820
StatePublished - Dec 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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    Whitfield, K. E., Thorpe, R., & Szanton, S. (2011). Health Disparities, Social Class, and Aging. In Handbook of the Psychology of Aging (pp. 207-218). Elsevier Inc..