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Advancing health equity through social care interventions

Peek ME, Gottlieb LM, Doubeni CA, Viswanathan M, Cartier Y, Aceves B, Fichtenberg C, Cené CW
Health Services Research

Objective: To use evidence on addressing racism in social care intervention research to create a framework for advancing health equity for all populations with marginalized social identities (e.g., race, gender, and sexual orientation). Such groups have disproportionate social needs (e.g., food insecurity) and negative social determinants of health (SDOH; e.g., poverty). We recommend how the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) could advance health equity for marginalized populations through social care research and care delivery.

Data Sources and Study Setting: This commentary is informed by a literature review of social care interventions that were affiliated with healthcare systems; input from health equity researchers, policymakers, and community leaders attending the AHRQ Health Equity Summit; and consensus of the authors.

Principal Findings: We recommend that AHRQ: (1) create an ecosystem that values research on SDOH and the effectiveness and implementation of social care interventions in the healthcare sector; (2) work with other federal agencies to (a) develop position statements with actionable recommendations about racism and other systems that perpetuate marginalization based on social identity and (b) develop aligned, complementary approaches to research and care delivery that address social marginalization; (3) advance both inclusive care delivery and inclusive research teams; (4) advance understanding of racism as a social determinant of health and effective strategies to mitigate its adverse impact on health; (5) advance the creation and scaling of effective strategies for addressing SDOH in healthcare systems, particularly in co-creation with community partners; and (6) require social care intervention researchers to use methods that advance our understanding of social health equity.

Conclusions: AHRQ, as a federal agency, could help advance health equity using a range of strategies, including using the agency's levers to ensure AHRQ stakeholders examine and address the unique experiences of socially marginalized populations in SDOH and social care intervention research.

Peek ME, Gottlieb LM, Doubeni CA, et al. Advancing health equity through social care interventions. Health Serv Res. 2023;58 Suppl 3(Suppl 3):318-326. DOI: PMID: 38015863

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Peer Reviewed Research
Social Determinant of Health
Study design