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Fewer people identify health disparities as a problem, new study finds

The number of people who think health disparities and inequities are a problem has waned since 2020, according to new research (Source: “Fewer People Recognize Health Disparities, Inequities as a Problem,” Patient Engagement HIT, Dec. 9).

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and RAND Corporation researchers saw a significant decline in the number of people recognizing health disparities between July 2020 and September 2021. In July 2020, 61.1% of U.S. adults agreed that people of color faced a disproportionate health impact from the COVID-19 pandemic, and 57.5% agreed people of color faced more of a financial impact than their white peers.

By September 2021, however, those numbers had shrunk. Only 52.7% of adults agreed populations of color saw a stronger health impact from the pandemic, and 50.3% agreed populations of color saw a bigger financial impact.

The survey showed that fewer people recognize the link between systemic racism and health outcomes. For example, the researchers reported a 3% decline in the number of people who agree poor health outcomes are related to systemic racism; only about 40% of respondents in September 2021 said they agreed health outcomes could be linked to systemic racism.