This chapter explores public perceptions of health disparities by taking political ideology and political party identification into account and applies theories of…
This chapter explores public perceptions of health disparities by taking political ideology and political party identification into account and applies theories of cognitive dissonance, cognitive prejudice, and moral prejudice to understand the impact of political ideology on perceptions of health disparities.
A statewide telephone survey asked 1,036 people about health disparities. Eight independent variables – political ideology, political party identification, gender, race, age, community type, income, and education achieved – were entered in an additive stepwise regression containing one of four dependent variables – unfair treatment based on health insurance, unfair treatment based on ability to speak English, minorities unable to get care when needed, and quality of care for minorities.
Political ideology entered all four equations while political party identity entered only two. Liberals were most likely to believe that minorities were unable to get routine care when needed and democrats that ability to speak English meant differential treatment. Respondents with low education were most likely to believe people were treated unfairly based on insurance, while those with lower incomes were more likely to believe that minorities received higher quality of care than whites.
A public opinion survey in one state cannot be generalized for the whole country. The survey was conducted in the spring of 2009 just as the debate over the proposed health care reform legislation was reaching a crescendo, which may explain the importance of political ideology on perceptions of health disparities.
Originality/value of chapter
This chapter explicitly examines the effect of political ideology and party identification on perceptions of health disparities by utilizing theories of cognitive and moral prejudice. Political ideology reflecting cognitive and moral prejudice may combine with support for a social movement or political faction that supports or opposes reducing health disparities.