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Stories about health in Arkansas, from the state Department of Health to campaigns to reduce the number of preventable accidents.

Conference Focuses On Social, Spirtual Side To Health Disparities

The sixth annual Delta Health Disparities Conference at Arkansas State University on Friday focused on the non-medical factors that contribute to health disparities in Arkansas.

Health disparities occur when one population group experiences a higher proportion of illness, disability or early death when compared with another population group.

Licensed master social worker Randall Murray said rural Arkansans can experience health disparities just based on where they live.  They may not have access to internet.

“A lot of mental health is done today on telemedicine,” he said.

Murray noted that transportation to medical appointments tends to be a problem in rural Arkansas, where transportation options can be expensive, inconvenient or non-existent.

Speakers at the conference said that connection to a church or synagogue has been repeatedly proven to help ease a patient’s risk for a health disparity.

“Church is a very important part of the African-American community, and so the church can play a major role in any health issues,” said local pastor Jerome Turner.

Keynote speaker Dr. Brook Laurent of the NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University urged the future doctors and nurses in the audience not to shy away from conversations about spirituality.  They don’t necessarily have to believe the same to know that spirituality can benefit a patient’s overall health and should be acknowledged, she said.

“Your conversation, in and of itself, can be therapeutic,” Laurent said.

This story is produced by Arkansas Public Media. What's that? APM is a nonprofit journalism project for all of Arkansas and a collaboration among public media in the state. We're funded in part through a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, with the support of partner stations KUAR, KUAF, KASU and KTXK. And, we hope, from you! You can learn more and support Arkansas Public Media's reporting at Arkansas Public Media is Natural State news with context.

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