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Research Review

Inequities Exists in Disease Burden, Healthcare Access for Minority Children

Minority children in the United States face a pervasive gap in the quality and extent of healthcare received compared with whites, according to a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics written by a University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center physician.

The report, appearing in Pediatrics, was compiled on behalf of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Pediatric Research. It is the first comprehensive review of racial/ethnic disparities in pediatric care, using the findings of more than 50 years of studies with regard to racial/ethnic disparities in children’s health and healthcare.

The review examined 781 studies, but found only 111 that provided specific information that could be used to identify disparities, signaling a need for better data collection methods. For example, many studies simply lump all nonwhite populations together. Some studies do not distinguish between data for adults and for children, or do not factor out race/ethnicity from economic or other factors.

Possible actions for addressing children’s disparities include the following:

• clinics, hospitals, and health systems should routinely collect data on race/ethnicity, the primary language spoken at home and English proficiency;

• children’s health and healthcare disparities should be monitored and publicly disclosed annually at the federal, state, local, health plan, and institutional levels;

• all children should have access to continuous health insurance coverage;

• insurers should cover medical interpreter services;

• medical, dental, osteopathic, nursing, and other health professions schools should increase diversity training; and

• more funding and research is needed to identify and address disparities in children, including creating healthcare empowerment zones that provide resources and programs in communities with the greatest disparities for children.

— Source: University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center