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Viewpoint
February 2018

Advocacy as Key to Structural Competency in Psychiatry

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of Social and Transcultural Psychiatry, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
JAMA Psychiatry. 2018;75(2):119-120. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.3897

Structural competency is an approach to clinical training and practice that aims to improve health care by directing attention to the social inequities that are among the root causes of health disparities.1 Recognizing these forms of social adversity may allow clinicians to better understand patients’ predicaments. However, to move beyond mere recognition, psychiatrists must find ways to address social structural issues and work toward systemic change. Without specific actions, structural competency risks being an academic exercise. Advocacy is one crucial way to translate insights into the social determinants of health into structurally competent practice. In this Viewpoint, we argue that advocacy can be a key aspect of structural competency.

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