Reducing Racial Inequities in Health: Using What We Already Know to Take Action

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Feb 19;16(4):606. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16040606.


This paper provides an overview of the scientific evidence pointing to critically needed steps to reduce racial inequities in health. First, it argues that communities of opportunity should be developed to minimize some of the adverse impacts of systemic racism. These are communities that provide early childhood development resources, implement policies to reduce childhood poverty, provide work and income support opportunities for adults, and ensure healthy housing and neighborhood conditions. Second, the healthcare system needs new emphases on ensuring access to high quality care for all, strengthening preventive health care approaches, addressing patients' social needs as part of healthcare delivery, and diversifying the healthcare work force to more closely reflect the demographic composition of the patient population. Finally, new research is needed to identify the optimal strategies to build political will and support to address social inequities in health. This will include initiatives to raise awareness levels of the pervasiveness of inequities in health, build empathy and support for addressing inequities, enhance the capacity of individuals and communities to actively participate in intervention efforts and implement large scale efforts to reduce racial prejudice, ideologies, and stereotypes in the larger culture that undergird policy preferences that initiate and sustain inequities.

Keywords: disparities; ethnicity; inequities; interventions; race; racism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Community Networks / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Community Networks / organization & administration*
  • Delivery of Health Care*
  • Ethnicity
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Healthcare Disparities / ethnology*
  • Humans
  • Quality of Health Care / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Racism / prevention & control*
  • Research Design / trends*