Vulnerability of Populations

Definition of Vulnerable Populations

            Vulnerable populations refer to the disadvantaged groups in the society who may be disadvantaged socio-economically, undergoing medical conditions, suffering a calamity, or belonging to the minority groups (Stone, 2012). Vulnerability in health focuses on persons at the risk of infection. However, vulnerable groups can form according to the risk in society. Ethnic minority groups, children and adolescents, homeless persons, low socioeconomic families, the elderly, and persons with chronic conditions such as diabetes belong to vulnerable groups. In most cases, the categories of vulnerable groups are interrelated. Racial groups tend to have similar characteristics with lower socioeconomic families. Moreover, families with poor socioeconomic backgrounds are likely to be homeless with chronic conditions.

Reasons for Studying Vulnerable Populations

Social factors are the underlying reasons for vulnerable groups. Social, economic, and political factors create vulnerable groups in society (Stone, 2012). The policies of a country determine the eligibility requirements for accessing aid, thus contribute to the existent poverty. There is a thin line between vulnerability and national resources. Poor health outcomes affect family wellness, which hinders national productivity and contributes to a fallen economy.

An example is the United States, which has fewer health indicators than other countries.  The economic situation in the United States owes to strong policies based on equality. Public policies in the United States promote equity.


Differences between Equity and Equality

   Equity looks into the individual needs of persons to ensure that everyone has what it takes to succeed. However, equality assumes that all individuals are at the same level, and therefore similar resources and opportunities are made accessible to all (Stone, 2012). For instance, an illiterate divorcee with medical conditions would access more aid than a single person with education when allocating funding.

How people are influenced when making decisions concerning health interventions and health policies

   Individual and community models influence decision making when choosing interventions and determining health policies (Stone, 2012). The individual models include social resources, determinants, socioeconomic status, and health characteristics portrayed by individuals. Secondly, community models focus on environmental exposure, social exposure, and medical situation. Individual models are common to all, while community models are a result of external exposure that puts the person at risk.


A particular population can be prone to ill health based on the present risk factors.

  1. How do biases affect vulnerable populations?

    Predisposing, enabling, and need factors that affect the vulnerability of populations (Stone, 2012). Individuals may be prone to infection, have health boosters, or be susceptible to certain illnesses. Quality of health, accessibility to healthcare, and health status are the most likely risks for ill health.

  • How would you address biases when making policy decisions?

    Risk factors cause underprivileged in particular populations. Racism and ethnic background determine the accessibility of healthcare in a state. Health policies form the basis on racial grounds, thus determine the health experiences of individuals. Moreover, cultural beliefs influence accessibility or willingness to seek medical care. Persons with acute medical conditions require increased attention for medical care.

Similarly, minorities require additional healthcare since they are at more risk of ill health than whites (Stone, 2012). Additionally, socioeconomic status is likely to affect a person’s occupation, education, and income. The residence of an individual also determines the funding availability and nature of public schools.


Stone, D. A. (2012). Equity. In Policy paradox: The art of political decision making (pp. 39-60). New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Co.