Year in review: Disparities in health care

Lena Weib

December 31, 2021

2 min read


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Throughout 2021, Healio has covered research concerning the short- and long-term health effects caused by a lack of diversity in clinical trials and disparities in health care overall.

However, this year’s research also revealed different strategies that may reduce health care disparities related to race, ethnicity and income status.



Research from 2021 illustrated the burden of health care disparities. Source: Adobe Stock.

Below is a list of 10 stories that illustrate the burden of health care disparities in the U.S. and efforts to address them:

CDC director: Disparities in COVID-19 are ‘striking’

After 15 months on the job, CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH, said that one of the most important lessons she has learned is the need for a better understanding of health care inequities in the United States. Read more.

New AMA policy seeks to protect racial minorities while in police custody

The AMA has announced a new policy that opposes the term “excited delirium” as a medical diagnosis and pharmacological interventions that are “disproportionately” used in cases where Black men die in the custody of law enforcement. Read more.

Black, Hispanic children more likely to die after surgery regardless of income status

Children from underrepresented populations, including those who lived in high-income areas, were at higher risk for postsurgical death than white children, a retrospective secondary analysis showed. Read more.

Life expectancy gap between Black and white Americans diminishes by 48.9%

The gap in life expectancy between Black and white Americans has narrowed over the past 3 decades from 7 years to 3.6 years, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. Read more.

Expanding Medicare eligibility may reduce health care disparities

Medicare eligibility was associated with sharp reductions in racial and ethnic disparities in health insurance coverage, access to care and self-reported health, according to findings published in JAMA Internal Medicine. Read more.

Non-Hispanic Black, Hispanic children less likely to undergo diagnostic imaging

Non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic children were less likely to undergo radiography, CT, ultrasonography and an MRI during ED visits than non-Hispanic white children, an analysis of more than 13 million ED visits showed. Read more.

Black pediatric patients more likely to be restrained in EDs than white peers, study finds

Black pediatric patients are more likely to be physically restrained in EDs than their white peers, according to a study by researchers at Yale. Read more.

Disparities in health care spending, outcomes persist in US, studies show

Health care spending and outcomes vary across racial and ethnic groups in the U.S., with underrepresented populations often having higher rates of ED spending and poor or fair health, according to three studies published in JAMA. Read more.

Researchers find ‘racially unequal care’ in most outpatient practices

Racial and ethnic minority groups were “markedly underrepresented” in outpatient practices across most medical specialties, and those disparities persisted even after researchers accounted for social determinants of access to care. Read more.

Black adults report facing discrimination in health care settings

Black adults reported experiencing discrimination or unfair judgment in health care settings at triple the rate of white adults and double the rate of Hispanic or “Latinx” adults, according to recent survey data. Read more.

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