Behavioral Medicine Can Reduce Health Disparities for Greater Health Equity

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Patients from racial/ethnic minority groups face greater healthcare challenges, but we can work together to achieve greater healthcare equity.

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Patients from racial/ethnic minority groups face greater healthcare challenges such as poorer access to high-quality care, more difficulty accessing pain medication, and longer wait times for treatment.

On World Science Day, the Society of Behavioral Medicine urges everyone to work together for health equity.

Patients from racial/ethnic minority groups face greater healthcare challenges such as poorer access to high-quality care, more difficulty accessing pain medication, and longer wait times for treatment. Behavioral medicine experts work within clinical settings to ensure the healthcare system benefits every patient. Clinicians collect information on patients’ social histories to better understand additional factors that can influence prevention or treatment. This helps patients change unhealthy behaviors while considering their specific needs, including behaviors in place due to unjust social circumstances beyond their control.

Behavioral medicine experts also help create safer spaces in communities to improve physical activity for all, and they are instrumental in shaping policies that make produce more readily available for patients with chronic conditions where food is a key component of management.

Everyone can play a role. Some key ways you can improve health equity include:

  • Do not assume everyone has equal access to resources that can improve or maintain their health.
  • Learn about your personal biases (blind spots we all have) and use that knowledge to promote fairer work, education, or neighborhood environments.
  • Do not hesitate to make stress management and self-care a priority when faced with racism-related stress, and encourage others to do the same.
  • When interacting with the healthcare system, speak up about issues like racism that might affect health or health care to advocate for yourself, your family members, and others.
  • Communicate and demonstrate anti-racist attitudes and actions in your spheres of influence such as your social circle, place of employment, and local community.
  • Become a champion and ally by supporting health policies that address structural racism and other social determinants of health.

About SBM
The Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM) is a 2,400-member organization of scientific researchers, clinicians, and educators. They study interactions among behavior, biology, and the environment, and translate findings into interventions that improve the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities (http://www.sbm.org).

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Rebecca Borzon
@BehavioralMed
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