Center for Diversity and Health Equity

Family Physicians
Striving for Health Equity

Due to their comprehensive training, family physicians are uniquely qualified to treat most ailments for people of all ages—newborns to seniors. They provide the majority of care for America’s underserved rural and urban populations, as well as treat a more diverse population of patients than any other medical specialty. This often places family physicians as leaders in their communities. As such, they have a unique and important role in helping raise awareness to patients and populations about health disparities, and helping to reduce health inequities among racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and other disadvantaged groups.

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) has a long history of supporting health equity and reducing health disparities in patient care. In fact, one of the key strategic objectives of the Academy is to “take a leadership role in addressing diversity and social determinants of health as they impact individuals, families, and communities across the lifespan and to strive for health equity.”

In keeping with our history and strategic objectives, the AAFP has launched the Center for Diversity and Health Equity. The center was created to provide opportunities for the AAFP to become a more thoughtful and visible leader for diversity and health equity.

Many racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and other disadvantaged groups experience health inequities that are evident for many diseases and health conditions. Factors that drive health inequities (often called social determinants of health) are associated with social, economic, and environmental disadvantages. These factors are vast and encompass a wide array of everyday living activities.

Read AAFP Policies on Health Equity Issues

Learn and understand the AAFP's position on issues affecting health equity and advocate for policies in your community that can promote improved health outcomes.

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Social Determinants of Health

Center for Diversity and Health Equity Activities and Goals

The Center for Diversity and Health Equity’s activities will include evaluating current research on the social determinants of health and health equity with a strong focus on collaboration, advocacy, and policy. It will promote evidence-based community and policy changes that address the social determinants of health and health equity. In conjunction with the AAFP, the center will develop practical tools and resources to equip family physicians and their teams to help patients, families, and communities with issues related to health equity.

The AAFP’s Center for Diversity and Health Equity will focus on seven major goals that strive for health equity for all.

  • Educate, train, and equip family physicians and chapters to address social determinants of health and diversity within the context of the medical home and medical neighborhood.
  • Advocate for policies at the national, state, and local levels to address social determinants of health and support health equity.
  • Collaborate with key stakeholders and organizations to strategically amplify a synergistic approach for raising awareness and developing solutions to address social determinants of health, diversity, and health equity to improve the health of the population.
  • Communicate prolifically about social determinants of health, health equity and diversity, and the AAFP's leadership role in working to advance these issues.
  • Increase diversity of the family physician workforce by increasing the representation of students from underrepresented populations in U.S. medical schools.
  • Advance evidence addressing social determinants of health in clinical practice and through the medical neighborhood and transform evidence into practice.
  • Promote primary care integration and collaboration with public health, behavioral health, oral health, and other key stakeholder organizations to develop synergy to improve health equity and promote diversity.

Raising Awareness

Despite gaps in health care and health outcomes among racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and other disadvantaged groups, awareness of health disparities is lacking among the general public. As leaders in your communities, family physicians can advocate for public policies at the national, state, and local levels that protect all individuals from health risk. These might include promoting:

  • The restriction of environmental contamination;
  • Access to high-quality health care and insurance coverage;
  • Access to healthy food options;
  • The use of vaccinations and other public health initiatives;
  • Economic development and fair access to employment; and
  • Equal opportunities for high-quality education for all.

Individual action and advocacy among family physicians, along with support from the AAFP’s Center for Diversity and Health Equity, has the opportunity to raise awareness about health disparities, and begin to positively impact population health outcomes and achieve health equity for all.