Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students

Understanding Children's Health Disparities


The health status of children in the United States varies widely, depending on a number of social and biologic factors. The principal sources of disparities in the health status of children in the United States are not biologic, however, but are social and economic. The socioeconomic status of the family into which a child is born has a profound impact throughout childhood and into adulthood. This course will explore social and economic factors as they affect children and their health status. We will look at lack of health insurance as a major factor impacting children's health. We will also explore ethnic, cultural, and behavioral factors that affect children's health, directly and indirectly. A key factor we will explore is the impact of a child’s early life experiences on their subsequent educational attainment. Finally, we will look at the proposals for health care reform coming out of Washington, D.C., asking specifically how they will impact existing health disparities among children.

Meet the Instructor(s)

Donald Barr

"I am trained both as a physician and as a sociologist. Before coming to Stanford, I practiced clinical medicine in a range of circumstances, from a small office in a rural area to the emergency room of a large urban hospital. Since coming to Stanford more than 20 years ago, I have focused on teaching and supporting undergraduates in topics including health care policy, the social causes of health inequality, and the factors that influence the patterns of health-related behavior children carry into adulthood. While I have received a number of teaching awards for this work, the most rewarding aspect of the work for me personally is the opportunity to get to know students from a range of backgrounds and to work with them as they develop their own interests and professional aspirations."