Health care disparities
At one Boston health care system a range of initiatives aimed at improving health care equity were launched as the pandemic swept forward last spring, taking a disproportionate toll on communities of color. Building on this could prove key as the virus resurges this winter.
Communities of color, which have long struggled against health disparities, have been affected much more severely by the COVID-19 pandemic than white communities. Now is the time to take stock of misconceptions, mistrust, and missteps that helped fuel infection rates and devastating outcomes last spring.
Inequities in maternal health caused by chronic systemic social injustice contribute directly to higher rates of maternal death among Black and indigenous people and people of color. Maternal justice is a model of culturally sensitive care that aims to dismantle inequities in maternity care and maximize maternal health and well-being.
Lifestyle medicine is an evidence-based practice of helping people adopt and sustain healthy behaviors, such as eating a plant-based diet, which can lower inflammation, as well as the risk of many chronic diseases. Some doctors and organizations are working toward making lifestyle medicine more accessible.
It is well established that African Americans have a higher risk of hypertension compared with other racial or ethnic groups in the United States. Researchers hypothesized that systemic, sustained discrimination could be a cause of this, and examined the effects of stress, discrimination, and injustice on health outcomes over the course of a person’s life.
The COVID-19 pandemic shone a light on disparities in health care and socioeconomic status, and drove food insecurity to an all-time high, particularly in communities most affected by the virus. Research shows links between food insecurity and eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia.
Because metabolic syndrome boosts the risk of developing several serious health problems, a troubling rise in rates of occurrence of metabolic syndrome among certain segments of the US population is of great concern.
Along with historically high unemployment rates, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a significant increase in food insecurity for millions of Americans, and this problem disproportionately affects lower-income people and racial and ethnic minorities. Temporary measures have helped a bit to ease the situation, and new proposals could do more.
Many women develop benign uterine fibroids, which may cause heavy menstrual bleeding, a problem that may be more severe among Black women. A new daily medication approved by the FDA may help some women by lightening blood loss during monthly periods.
As coronavirus cases multiplied, many medical offices and clinics shifted to seeing patient virtually through telemedicine. While its value quickly became obvious, virtual visits are not optimal for everyone who needs health care. Awareness of limitations can help care providers improve access to their services.