Explain the concept of vulnerable populations

Ch. 1 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 creation 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 populations.

Identify the vulnerable populations in the United States.




Two women enter the hospital with pneumonia. They are similar in age, but of different 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 infections.


Environmental factors such as finances, family, and education all affect a person’s vulnerability, 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 populations 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 ideologies 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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