COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT BRINGS CREDIBILITY TO RISK REDUCTION GETTING STARTED Individuals may be vulnerable to health care problems for one or more underlying reasons, including financial circumstances, demographics, health, age, dis/ability, and cultural language barriers. Additional factors, such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender have been shown to be associated with differential treatment in obtaining quality health care. There is a clear need to increase the level of attention paid to vulnerable groups, due to their numerous interactions with the health system. Vulnerable groups, including those with chronic illnesses, often have difficulty accessing healthcare and are more likely to fall through the cracks. To improve healthcare access to those facing barriers, vulnerable patients want to be assured they are provided with considerate, respectful care, free of discrimination. What defines “Vulnerable”? The term “vulnerable” or “ at-risk ” populations is often used to describe a specific geographic area of low-income groups, the uninsured and those at high-risk for certain illnesses, conditions or adverse life situations. In addition, vulnerable and at-risk populations includes communities who are at increased risk for poor health outcomes due to such factors like race, ethnicity, place of residence, economic status, age, physical or medial conditions. Who is Vulnerable? Though almost everyone is at risk of being defined as “vulnerable ”, the groups most associated with vulnerability include: The groups mentioned above are reported to be at a higher risk of suffering from one or more of life’s adversities and illnesses that afflict everyone. This may also include rural communities who often encounter geographical barriers to healthcare access due to their remote locations. SIDS/Other Infant Death Project—NCCC • Promising Practices Series—Spring 2007 2 • children & teens • the uninsured • women • ethnic/cultural groups/race • LGBT communities • the disabled • the elderly • homeless people • incarcerated inmates • mentally challenged • immigrants & refugees • economic status & geographic areas Teens Teens and young adults are more likely to engage in behaviors that place them at extremely vulnerable risks for diseases, illnesses, abuse and teen pregnancy.