A Strategy for Improving Health Disparities Education in Medicine

In order to improve the health of a diverse U.S. population, it is necessary to educate physicians about pervasive racial and ethnic health disparities and help them develop strategies to deliver quality care to underserved populations. Few existing curricula use evidence-based principles to guide learners in developing meaningful clinical responses to overcome disparities. This article outlines the materials developed by the Society of General Internal Medicine’s (SGIM’s) Disparities Taskforce, which represents a comprehensive curriculum for teaching and evaluating health disparities education. The curriculum incorporates five modules: (1) Disparities Foundations, (2) Teaching Disparities in the Clinical Setting, (3) Disparities Beyond the Clinical Setting, (4) Teaching about Disparities through Community Involvement, and (5) Curriculum Evaluation.

Key Objectives:

  • Understand attitudes such as mistrust, subconscious bias and stereotyping that practitioners and patients may bring to a clinical encounter.
  • Be aware of the existence and magnitude of health disparities.
  • Acquire skills to communicate and negotiate across cultures.

There is an ongoing need for medical institutions to incorporate health disparities education into their curricula. The SGIM Health Disparities Curriculum is designed to aid in that effort and to promote understanding of the health care provider’s role in addressing disparities.