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September 2006

NHM Health Focus: Help Close the Health Gap

Take a Loved One for a Checkup!

Preventive Care Guidelines

  - Men Stay Healthy at Any Age (English or Spanish) (AHCPR)
  - Women Stay Healthy at Any Age (English  or  Spanish) (AHCPR)
  - People 50+, Checkups, Tests and Shots (AHCPR)
  - Recommended Child and Adolescent Immunization Schedule (CDC)
  - Recommended Adult Immunization Schedule (CDC)
  - Going to the Doctor (Kids Health, Nemours)
  - Health of Minority Women (HHS OWH)

  - Minority Men's Health (HHS OWH)
  - A Teenager's Guide to Better Health (NIDDK)

  - Pocket Guide to Good Health for Adults (AHRQ)

Each year the third Tuesday in September (this year it is September 19) is celebrated as "Take a Loved One for a Checkup Day." The purpose of the event is to remind us all to encourage others to see a health professional or make an appointment to see one in the near future.

One way to make such a visit both comfortable and productive is to know what to say to your health professional. "Your Doctors and Nurses: What to Ask Them and What to Tell" in the Pocket Guides to Good Health, available for adults and children provide some guidelines. These and a companion guide Pocket Guide to Staying Healthy at 50+ are available in Spanish and in English.

Research has shown that many individuals need to be motivated to seek out regular health care. While most people wait until there is an emergency before they go see a doctor (Health care professionals understand the value of preventive care), Take A Loved One for a Checkup Day is an excellent way to screen individuals, and where necessary, refer them for follow-up care. (Office of Minority Health, HHS)

Health in the United States is not the same for all. For example:

  • More than 75 percent of AIDS cases among women and children occur among racial/ethnic minorities, primarily African American and Hispanic American. (CDC)
  • African American men under 65 suffer from prostate cancer at nearly twice [the rate] of white Americans. (CDC)
  • "In 2000, American Indians and Alaska Natives were 2.6 times more likely to have diagnosed diabetes compared with non-Hispanic Whites, African Americans were 2.0 times more likely, and Hispanics were 1.9 times more likely." (OMH)
  • Cancer disease is the second leading cause of death for both non-Hispanic blacks and non-Hispanic whites. (CDC)
  • In 2002 Hispanic persons were more likely than non-Hispanic white and non-Hispanic black persons to have had no health care visits within the past 12 months (26 percent compared with 14–15 percent, percents are age adjusted). (CDC)
  • "Of all the TB cases reported from 1991-2001, almost 80 percent were in racial and ethnic minorities. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders accounted for 22 percent of those cases, even though they made up less than four percent of the U.S. population." (OMH)
  • More than twelve percent of children under 18 years of age had no health care visit to a doctor or clinic within the past 12 months in 2001–02. Hispanic and non-Hispanic black children were more likely to be without a recent visit than non-Hispanic white children (19 percent and 14 percent compared with 10 percent). (CDC)
  • Infant mortality rates are highest among African Americans and American Indians/Alaska Natives. (ChildStat.gov)

You can help someone who hasn't seen a health provider recently get a checkup. You might provide transportation, help make an appointment, assist with babysitting, or give other support so that someone, who otherwise would find it difficult to do so, can visit a physician or other health provider for a checkup.

Or, if you haven't had a checkup in a while, make an appointment for yourself. If they (or you) don't already have a doctor, or don't have health insurance, use the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) resources to contact your local community health center or local health department to ask about free or low-cost care. If you have insurance and don't use it, there is no better time than now.

If you need assistance finding a health provider, call 1-800-444-6472 and ask to speak to one of the HHS information specialists.

Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum has the following resources addressing these health issues:

News Maker Interviews : State of the Heart The Future of Cardiology
Activities Exchange - Activities to Go: Human Body Project
Activities Exchange - Activities to Go: Diseases of the Immune System
Activities Exchange - Fellows' Collection: Medical Consultation Role Play
Health Headquarters - Health Resource Center: Health Health Resources Online
Let's Collaborate - Teaching and Learning: Tuberculosis Project
Activities Exchange - Classic Collection: Vaccines--How and Why?
Health Headquarters - Health Focus: Health Disparity Resources
Health Headquarters - Question of the Week: Who Can You Trust?
Health Headquarters - Question of the Week: What Should You Know?