Stein steers NIH focus on health disparities

September 13, 2016  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees

Joshua Stein, M.D., M.S., U-M associate professor of ophthalmology, recently provided an update on access to eye care as the National Institutes of Health conducted a briefing in Bethesda, Md., on health care disparities.

The Centers for Population and Health Disparities program was developed in response to a strategic priority at NIH to address health disparities and inequities in the prevalence and outcomes of several diseases. Stein joined researchers including those from Harvard School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Pennsylvania during the CPHHD forum to discuss future priorities in health disparities.

As the national event focused on disparities in access and quality of care, Stein, a health policy expert who leads the U-M’s Center for Eye Policy and Innovation, revealed that sight-threatening diseases may go underdiagnosed among poor children.

In a recent paper, Stein and colleagues showed rates of strabismus (misaligned eyes) and amblyopia (lazy eye) diagnoses were higher in children of more affluent families, suggesting that these sight-threatening conditions might be going undetected in children from less affluent families.

Despite the fact that all of the children included in their analysis were covered by the same health insurance plan, children in more affluent families tended to use more eye care services than did less affluent children.

The paper was among the research highlighted during the briefing from the August issue of Health Affairs.

The study authors, which include Chris Andrews, David C. Musch, Ph.D., M.P.H.; Carmen R. Green, M.D.; and Paul Lee, M.D., J.D., concluded that families may face barriers beyond insurance that keep children from getting needed eye exams.



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