Principles for Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Healthcare

  • John Z. Ayanian
  • Richard Allen Williams


The elimination of racial and ethnic disparities in health has become a national priority in the United States (1). These disparities have many causes and potential solutions. In the landmark Unequal Treatment report, the Institute of Medicine reviewed and highlighted racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare as an important factor contributing to disparities in health outcomes (2). This report concluded with a strong call for action to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in the US healthcare system. Since 2003, the federal government has issued an annual National Healthcare Disparities Report to monitor racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in access to care and quality of care. Whereas the initial report released by the federal Department of Health and Human Services generated considerable controversy and debate about the content and interpretation of key findings (3), subsequent reports have become a useful tool for tracking national trends in disparities across a wide array of quality measures. In 2004, this report found that lower quality of care was experienced by African Americans for two-thirds of measures, by Hispanics for one-half of measures, and by American Indians/Alaskan Natives for one-third of measures (4).


Racial Disparity Healthcare Organization African American Patient Ethnic Disparity Minority Patient 
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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Z. Ayanian
    • 1
  • Richard Allen Williams
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Medicine and Health Care PolicyHarvard Medical SchoolBoston
  2. 2.The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLAUSA
  3. 3.The Minority Health Institute, Inc.USA
  4. 4.Institute for the Advancement of Multicultural and Minority MedicineLos Angeles

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