Review the descriptions of the special populations addressed in Chapter 1 of your course textbook.  Identify the three groups you feel are most vulnerable. Explain your reasoning for selecting the groups based on: 

An analysis of the statistical data/trends related to the populations. How did you use data to determine the three most vulnerable populations? Explain your thought process.
The World Health Organization’s formal definition of “health.” How are the physical, mental, and social aspects of health compromised in these three vulnerable populations in comparison to the others?
The statistical data and the health compromises identified above. Create a list of at least three health service needs for each vulnerable group you identified.

Your initial contribution should be 250 to 300 words in length. Your research and claims must be supported by your course text and at least one other scholarly source. Use proper APA formatting for in-text citations and references as outlined in the Writing Center.


Identifying the Vulnerable

Learning Objectives

After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

• Explain the concept of vulnerable populations.

• Discuss how the theories of common good and individual rights contribute to the cre-
ation of public policy in health care.

• Determine how the concept of resource availability relates to one’s health.

• Examine the aggregate statistical data on the number and growth of identified vulnerable

• Identify the vulnerable populations in the United States.

Courtesy of Chris Bett/fotolia

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CHAPTER 1Introduction


Two women enter the hospital with pneumonia. They are similar in age, but of dif-ferent races. One patient has private health insurance; the other is on Medicaid. One patient recovers quickly while the other languishes. What can be surmised from the
differences in the two patients? Thinking on this and asking the right questions allows
health care providers to create patient care plans that better meet each patient’s needs.
Providing better health care to all patients requires awareness of environmental factors
that may prohibit timely recovery and put the patient at risk for secondary and repeat

Environmental factors such as finances, family, and education all affect a person’s vulner-
ability, or risk level. Understanding statistical data on vulnerable populations will help
you interpret patient information. This allows easier identification of those who are at
risk, so that providers may plan care accordingly. Addressing the needs of at-risk popula-
tions leads to faster patient recovery, thereby lowering the cost of patient care.

Lowering health care costs is important for the patient, the care provider, and the whole
country. Nonprofit organizations and government agencies work to identify and help
at-risk groups. This activity affects both government and organizational policy among
health care providers.

This text investigates the statistical data and indicators of vulnerable populations in
American health care. It also covers the causes of vulnerability and the prevailing ideolo-
gies on dealing with at-risk populations. We will also discuss what is currently being done
through policymaking and program implementation to address the needs of vulnerable
populations and what the future looks like for at-risk groups. This chapter focuses on
identifying vulnerable populations. The relationship between resource availability and
health is an important part of recognizing at-risk groups. Finally, we will look at statistical
data concerning the at-risk groups identified in the book.

Critical Thinking

The text states, “Addressing the needs of at-risk populations leads to faster patient recovery, thereby
lowering the cost of patient care.” How does addressing the needs of at-risk populations lead to faster
patient recovery?

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