Health Equity

What can physicians do about racial and ethnic health inequities?


Health inequity is not a historical accident. Rather, it is a result of policies and practices structured and maintained over time.

Explore Health Equity

This web series features diverse speakers touching on the impact of existing structural issues and the COVID-19 pandemic on health equity.

In the first of a two-part theme, the February issue of AMA Journal of Ethics® (@JournalofEthics) focuses specifically on racial and ethnic inequity in morbidity, mortality and access to services that are endemic to American life. It also gives you an opportunity to earn CME credit.

Articles include:

  1. Advancing Health Equity by Avoiding Judgmentalism and Contextualizing Care.” 

    1. Judgmentalism applied to patients from poor and marginalized communities exacerbates health inequity and illuminates the importance of contextualizing a patient’s care.
  2. What Should Clinicians Do When a Patient’s Autonomy Undermines Her Being Treated Equitably?” 

    1. Patients’ cultural, religious and social norms deserve respect, but some decisions’ effects on patients’ outcomes can be unjust and ethically troubling.
  3. How Should Clinicians Respond to Language Barriers That Exacerbate Health Inequity?” 

    1. Limited language proficiency is a driver of health inequity and exacerbates other social determinants of health.
  4. How Should Physicians and Pharmacists Collaborate to Motivate Health Equity in Underserved Communities?” 

    1. Physicians and pharmacists play key roles in addressing social determinants of health and health inequity.

In the journal’s February podcast, Paris Adkins-Jackson, PhD, MPH, proposes how to measure racism in academic health centers as one way to rebuild trust with marginalized communities.

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COVID-19 health equity initiatives across the United States

Adkins-Jackson is a multidisciplinary health researcher who uses mixed data to model multilevel assessments of racism at the Community, Access, Recruitment and Engagement Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Listen to previous episodes of the podcast, “Ethics Talk,” or subscribe in iTunes or other services.

These AMA Journal of Ethics CME modules are each designated by the AMA for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™:

Additionally, the CME module, “Ethics Talk: Measuring Racism in Academic Health Centers,” is designated by the AMA for a maximum of 0.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™.

The offering is part of the AMA Ed Hub™, an online learning platform that brings together high-quality CME, maintenance of certification, and educational content—in one place—with relevant learning activities, automated credit tracking and reporting for some states and specialty boards.

Related Coverage

Race-based medicine is wrong. How should physicians oppose it?

The journal’s editorial focus is on commentaries and articles that offer practical advice and insights for medical students and physicians. Submit a manuscript for publication. The journal also invites original photographs, graphics, cartoons, drawings and paintings that explore the ethical dimensions of health or health care.

Upcoming issues of the AMA Journal of Ethics will focus on part two of racial and health equity in the U.S. as well as compassionate uses of force. Sign up to receive email alerts when new issues are published.