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Health care professionals can perpetuate racial disparities even without intending to. These evidence-based strategies can put clinics on a solid path to change.

Fam Pract Manag. 2023;30(4):23-26

This content conforms to AAFP criteria for CME.

Author disclosures: no relevant financial relationships.

reduce disparities

Tragic events in recent years, including the very public murder of George Floyd coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic's disproportionate effects on communities of color,1,2 have spurred a renewed national focus on racial disparities and an urgency to address the problem.

Many health care organizations are examining systemic issues — deeply established practices, policies, beliefs, or attitudes — that may contribute to racism and health disparities even without the awareness or intent of individuals operating within the system.3 For example, cancer is more often fatal for Black patients, which may be related to delays in diagnosis due to inequities in insurance coverage, poorer access to quality medical care in certain locations, or higher rates of comorbidities, as well as differential clinical treatment.4

The American Medical Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) have created strategic plans to address structural racism within medicine.5,6 At the same time, these issues must be actively addressed at the individual clinic level for adequate, equitable care to be attainable for all. While solutions to long-running societal problems are complex, current research provides a wealth of ideas for addressing racial discrimination in health care and fostering long-term changes.7 Here are six evidence-based steps clinics can take.

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