The disparity in outcomes of health for marginalized populations, as well as differential treatment and discrimination, is a major issue. Self-reflection is important as well, because healthcare providers need to recognize and acknowledge their biases.
The Institute of Medicine found in a 2003 study that minorities of color and other ethnic groups receive inferior healthcare to whites, when they control for such factors as income and insurance status. In the study, several factors were identified that contributed to this disparity, including language barrier, lack diversity of the healthcare workforce and unconscious biases of the healthcare providers. This can lead to differential treatments, including not offering certain treatment or testing to minorities or giving less information on their conditions and treatment.
In order to address these problems, it is important that specific programs are developed in order to reduce disparities and promote cultural competency. These programs will focus on increasing cultural sensitivity, raising awareness about racism, dealing with unconscious biases and addressing power imbalances. CLAS Standards (National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Approved Services in Health and Health Care) developed by US Department of Health and Human Services is an example. These standards offer a framework to healthcare organizations for providing equitable care for diverse population, which includes strategies for increasing communication, diversity among healthcare workers, and engagement with community partners.
It is essential to ensure that healthcare providers provide quality and equal care by recognizing racism and power imbalances. To address these issues, programs that promote cultural competency and reduce healthcare disparities will be necessary. This ensures all patients get the same quality of care regardless of their identity or background.
Institute of Medicine. (2003). Unequal Treatment: Reconciling Racial and Ethnic Inequalities in Health. National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/12875