Northwestern Health Sciences University releases policy statement on racial inequities in integrative care
Racism causes health disparities, according to a new policy statement from Northwestern Health Sciences University (NWHSU).
In response to the social justice movements that sparked over the summer, experts from NWHSU delved into the effects of and racial inequalities and systemic biases in healthcare and the effects on racial minority access and usage of complementary and integrative medicine.
Authored by Michelle Maiers, DC, PhD, and Charles Sawyer, DC, the policy paper addresses issues of racial inequalities in integrative healthcare and outlines strategies for providers to support communities, recognizing the substantial work that still needs to be done within the industry.
According to the paper, Black professionals represent only 1.6 percent of chiropractors, 0.8 percent of acupuncturists, and 12 percent of massage therapists. For reference, the authors point out that 5 percent of physicians and 6.2 percent of nurses identify as Black. The most recent census data reports 13.4 percent of the U.S. population identify as Black. This segment of the U.S. population is clearly underrepresented in healthcare generally, and especially among complementary and integrative health professions, the authors said.
The policy paper, which is available in full online, also features a detailed call to action to confront racism in healthcare, which includes:
- Build trust
- Implement community driven complementary and integrative health programs
- Serve communities of color
- Improve cultural competence
- Elevate professionals of color
- Increase complementary and integrative healthcare workforce diversity
- Foster inclusive educational environments
- Develop dedicated curriculums