As endocrinologists we have focused on biological contributors to disparities in diabetes, obesity and other endocrine disorders. Given that diabetes is an exemplar health disparity condition, we, as a specialty, are also positioned to view the contributing factors and solutions more broadly. This will give us agency in contributing to health system, public health, and policy-level interventions to address the structural and institutional racism embedded in our medical and social systems. A history of unconsented medical and research experimentation on vulnerable groups and perpetuation of eugenics theory in the early 20th century have resulted in residual health care provider biases toward minority patients and patient distrust of medical systems, leading to poor quality of care. Historical discriminatory housing and lending policies resulted in racial residential segregation and neighborhoods with inadequate housing, healthy food access, and educational resources, setting the foundation for the social determinants of health (SDOH) contributing to present-day disparities. To reduce these disparities we need to ensure our health systems are implementing the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health and Health Care to promote health equity. Because of racial biases inherent in our medical systems due to historical unethical practices in minority communities, health care provider training should incorporate awareness of unconscious bias, antiracism, and the value of diversity. Finally, we must also address poverty-related SDOH (eg, food and housing insecurity) by integrating social needs into medical care and using our voices to advocate for social policies that redress SDOH and restore environmental justice.
- health equity
- social determinants of health
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Clinical Biochemistry
- Biochemistry, medical