African American Patient Disparities in COVID-19 Outcomes: A Call to Action for Physiatrists to Provide Rehabilitation Care to Black Survivors

Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2020 Nov;99(11):986-987. doi: 10.1097/PHM.0000000000001568.


SARS-CoV-2 is a novel and highly contagious coronavirus that has been a major threat to the public's health. As the pandemic has spread across the United States, it has become abundantly clear that vulnerable populations include not only the elderly and individuals with disabilities but also those who are homeless or incarcerated, Latinx Americans, African Americans, and Native Americans. This report is focused on the experience of Black patients, inclusive of African Americans, and recognizes the higher morbidity and mortality in this population. Physiatrists can provide care for the sequelae faced by survivors and prioritize rehabilitation services. Programs must be administered in a way that is geographically accessible to Black communities and demonstrate cultural competence. Future research should focus on the social determinants of health to better understand at-risk populations and improve outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Aged
  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / ethnology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / mortality
  • Coronavirus Infections / rehabilitation*
  • Culturally Competent Care / ethnology
  • Female
  • Healthcare Disparities / ethnology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics
  • Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine / methods
  • Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / ethnology*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / mortality
  • Pneumonia, Viral / rehabilitation*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • United States / epidemiology