Ask the Experts: Health Disparities & COVID-19

While we are all vulnerable to the potential health risks of COVID-19, it has become apparent that this pandemic is not affecting all communities equally. The communities who are already facing health disparities, in areas like access to health care, equal medical treatment, and underlying comorbidities, are experiencing far worse health outcomes and far higher mortality rates as a result of COVID-19.

The panelists in this webinar draw on their research and expertise on health disparities and provide insights as to how and what must be done to improve health outcomes for these vulnerable communities.

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Questions

[8:10] What are the most misunderstood ideas, terms, or narratives, that inhibit our progress in reducing current health disparities?

[20:14] What are the repercussions of framing a discussion of health disparities as a singular disease, even when evidence suggests disparities put people at risk of many adverse outcomes from all diseases?

[30:02] What is your take on reopening schools in general and vulnerable communities?

[40:05] What criteria should schools evaluate when deciding reopening policies?

[42:44] Given the disparities that we have in the C-U community, what types of programs and policies should we prioritize to maximize safety and reconcile disparities?

[47:12] How do health disparities affect the way we need to communicate with certain populations? How do we communicate the adoption of safe behaviors?

[51:25] How can we convince those who don’t believe they are at high-risk for COVID-19 to act in the common good for all?

[56:17] Final thoughts and wrap-up

Meet the Experts

Cabral Bigman, Associate Professor, Department of Communication

Prof. Bigman’s research focuses on communication about health, risk, and inequality. She is particularly interested in the influence that messages about comparative risk and inequality have on health and communication-related behavior. She provides expertise in communicating about risk during the pandemic, especially when comparing the levels of risk between different social or age groups.

Christy Lleras, Associate Professor, Human Development and Family Studies

Prof. Lleras’ research addresses racial health disparities, educational inequality, and poverty by examining how schools and neighborhoods affect child and adolescent health and development and maternal well-being. She contributes expertise in understanding how exposure to chronic social stressors affect mental health, immune functioning, and disease risk among communities of color.

William Schneider, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work

Prof. Schneider’s research examines the influence of macroeconomic factors, family complexity, and interventions in the promotion of child well-being and the prevention of child maltreatment. He contributes expertise in respect to how the pandemic has exacerbated these issues and interventions to reduce these disparities.

Margarita Teran-Garcia, Assistant Professor, Division of Nutritional Sciences

Prof. Teran-Garcia’s research focuses on transdisciplinary work promoting health and wellness among families of Hispanic-heritage. She contributes expertise in regard to translating evidence-based science to community-based programs that serve children and families in need to prevent obesity and chronic diseases.

This webinar is hosted by the University of Illinois Center for Social and Behavioral Science and Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Institute.