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Deep Dive

Deep Dive: Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health and Healthcare Executive Brief

Key strategies for understanding, detecting, and reducing disparities

Racial and ethnic disparities in health and healthcare continue to be pervasive. Research has repeatedly confirmed that members of racial and ethnic minority groups are more likely to experience disparities in care, including having an increased risk of being uninsured or underinsured, lacking access to care, and experiencing worse health outcomes for treatable and preventable conditions.

With few exceptions, evidence of such disparities is “remarkably consistent across a range of illnesses and healthcare services” (National Academies). Social determinants of health (e.g., economic stability, education level, access to healthy food), geographic barriers, behavioral choices, economic status, cultural misunderstandings, language barriers, and implicit bias are all factors that can contribute to health and healthcare disparities.

To eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in care, healthcare organizations must be willing to make both short- and long-term commitments, and these commitments must be reflected in the organization’s mission and strategic plans.

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