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Medicalization of poverty: A call to action for America's healthcare workforce

Jones DD
Fam Med Community Health

As a social determinant of health, poverty has been medicalised in such a way that interventions to address it have fallen on the shoulders of healthcare systems and healthcare professionals to reduce health inequities as opposed to creating and investing in a strong social safety net. In our current fee-for-service model of healthcare delivery, the cost of delivering secondary or even tertiary interventions to mitigate the poor health effects of poverty in the clinic is much more costly than preventive measures taken by communities. In addition, this leads to increasing burnout among the healthcare workforce, which may ultimately result in a healthcare worker shortage. To mitigate, physicians and other healthcare workers with power and privilege in communities systematically disenfranchised may take action by being outspoken on the development and implementation of policies known to result in health inequities. Developing strong advocacy skills is essential to being an effective patient advocate in and outside of the exam room.

Jones DD. Medicalization of poverty: a call to action for America's healthcare workforce Fam Med Community Health. 2022;10(3). DOI:10.1136/fmch-2022-001732. PMID: 35863775

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