A roadmap and best practices for organizations to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in health care

J Gen Intern Med. 2012 Aug;27(8):992-1000. doi: 10.1007/s11606-012-2082-9.

Abstract

Over the past decade, researchers have shifted their focus from documenting health care disparities to identifying solutions to close the gap in care. Finding Answers: Disparities Research for Change, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is charged with identifying promising interventions to reduce disparities. Based on our work conducting systematic reviews of the literature, evaluating promising practices, and providing technical assistance to health care organizations, we present a roadmap for reducing racial and ethnic disparities in care. The roadmap outlines a dynamic process in which individual interventions are just one part. It highlights that organizations and providers need to take responsibility for reducing disparities, establish a general infrastructure and culture to improve quality, and integrate targeted disparities interventions into quality improvement efforts. Additionally, we summarize the major lessons learned through the Finding Answers program. We share best practices for implementing disparities interventions and synthesize cross-cutting themes from 12 systematic reviews of the literature. Our research shows that promising interventions frequently are culturally tailored to meet patients' needs, employ multidisciplinary teams of care providers, and target multiple leverage points along a patient's pathway of care. Health education that uses interactive techniques to deliver skills training appears to be more effective than traditional didactic approaches. Furthermore, patient navigation and engaging family and community members in the health care process may improve outcomes for minority patients. We anticipate that the roadmap and best practices will be useful for organizations, policymakers, and researchers striving to provide high-quality equitable care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Continental Population Groups / ethnology
  • Delivery of Health Care / ethnology*
  • Delivery of Health Care / standards
  • Ethnic Groups / ethnology
  • Foundations / standards
  • Foundations / trends
  • Healthcare Disparities / ethnology*
  • Healthcare Disparities / standards
  • Humans
  • Quality Improvement* / standards