July 1, 2020

Racism and health care: Your reading list

Daily Briefing

    Recent protests against racial injustice, in addition to the disparate impact of Covid-19 on Black communities, have placed a spotlight on racial inequities in the United States. Because racism is a health care issue, health care organizations play a vital role in addressing health inequities that result from systemic racism.

    A crucial first step is to learn about racism and its health care implications. We've pulled together a list of resources to give you a place to start.

    Resources available through your Advisory Board membership

    • Radio Advisory: Health equity and racism playlist

      In these episodes of our podcast, Advisory Board's Rae Woods sits down with Advisory Board experts and industry executives. Together, they discuss topics such as the impact that racism and bias have on health equity—and the vital role that health care leaders must play in combating structural inequity for all communities they serve. 

    • Blog post: How to build true health equity amid a global pandemic

      Amid national protests over racial injustice, our researchers on June 4 discussed the impacts of structural racism on health outcomes, and what health care leaders should do about it—both during the pandemic and beyond. Read this blog post summarizing key takeaways.

    • Webinar recording: Social determinants of health 101

      This webinar examines the impact that social determinants of health have on clinical outcomes and suggests ways that providers can partner with community-based organizations already providing non-clinical support to patients.

    • Webinar recording: Health equity 101

      Providers play a major role in addressing both individual and systemic health inequities. This webinar explains why and how to invest resources to identify health disparities, gather relevant data, and surface health disparities on a patient level.

    Readings from other organizations

    Structural racism is a deeply embedded root cause of disparate outcomes in health care. Therefore, learning about structural racism and how it impacts Black Americans—from health care facilities to the criminal justice system—is essential to successfully serving Black staff and patients.

    The external resources below are not comprehensive, but they're primers that will help leaders think more holistically when crafting their community-focused strategic plans.

    On systemic racism in health care:

    • Article: How we fail Black patients in pain | AAMC

      Dr. Janice Sabin outlines the differences in pain treatment that Black and white patients receive and suggests steps providers and health care institutions can take to address the underlying biases that lead to inequitable treatment.

    For the leaders of health care organizations:

    • Press release: Police brutality must stop | American Medical Association

      In response to recent incidences of police brutality, the AMA issued a press release recognizing that racism is a detriment to health and describing the relationship between police brutality and health outcomes. Although the piece itself is a an informative read, we’ve included it in our list because it’s a great example of a public statement that both educates the reader about health inequities and provides concrete examples of how health care organizations can directly confront racism.

    • Article: U.S. businesses must take meaningful action against racism | Harvard Business Review

      Laura Morgan Roberts and Ella F. Washington write that organizational leaders must proactively support their employees—specifically Black employees—in response to recent acts of racism to ensure they feel safe and valued. This article offers guidance on how to respond and lists actionable steps to lead the charge against racism.

    On racial disparities in the American criminal justice system:

    • Book: The New Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness | Michelle Alexander

      Michelle Alexander examines how mass incarceration of Black Americans in the course of the war on drugs has marginalized communities of color—including how Black men convicted of felonies face legal discrimination, barriers to employment, and poor access to education and public benefits.

    • Documentary: "13th" | Ava DuVernay

      This critically acclaimed documentary reframes mass incarceration in the United States as a legal continuation of slavery since 1865. It's an in-depth look at the intersection of racial inequity, justice, and imprisonment through history.

    On systemic racism across U.S. history:

    • Podcast: 1619 | The New York Times

      This audio series, hosted by Nikole Hannah-Jones, discusses the history of American slavery since 1619 over five segments. Of particular interest, she dedicates episode four to explaining how Black Americans have been excluded from the health care system, and how that exclusion has contributed to continuing health inequities.

    • Book: Stamped from the Beginning | Ibram X. Kendi

      Historian Ibram X. Kendi recounts the development and proliferation of anti-Black racism in the United States through the stories of five major American intellectuals: Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Angela Davis.

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