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Book and Media Reviews
December 26, 2012

Healthcare Disparities at the Crossroads With Healthcare Reform

Author Affiliations

Book and Media Reviews Section Editor: John L. Zeller, MD, PhD, Contributing Editor.

Author Affiliation: Mongan Institute for Health Policy, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston (ecampbell@partners.org).

JAMA. 2012;308(24):2629. doi:10.1001/jama.308.24.2629-a

Racial and ethnic disparities in health care are well recognized, although the reasons underlying them are complex. The 2002 Institute of Medicine report Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care has become the de facto standard reference for cataloging the reasons, mechanisms, and possible approaches to solving this vexing health care problem.1 Not surprisingly, therefore, the structure and topics of Healthcare Disparities at the Crossroads With Healthcare Reform parallel the organization and content of the Institute of Medicine report. With an editor and chapter contributors who are recognized leaders in the field, the book describes the multidimensional contributors to disparities, including health systems factors (eg, patients having difficulty navigating the health care system), clinician factors (eg, challenging patient-physician communication because of language barriers or cultural beliefs, clinician stereotyping of patients), and patient factors (eg, mistrust) as particularly pertinent. In addition, this book has chapters on cultural diversity, history, law, and the federal government's efforts to address disparities. A few chapters address new and important considerations such as the role of health information technology (chapter 21) and innovative programs such as Remote Area Medical (chapter 22).

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