Tag Archives: health equity

More data needed on disparities
in patient safety research, experts say

man holding medical chart

U.S. Navy patient safety training. Photo by Macy Hinds | Public domain photo

A growing body of research shows a link between gender, race and ethnicity and unsafe patient care, but some experts say more comprehensive patient data are needed to better understand why certain groups are more likely to be harmed by medical error. 

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Loneliness and health inequity are
post-COVID-19 stories to cover, reporter says

Fran Kritz

Reporter Fran Kritz

During the pandemic, one of the publications I relied on to answer my questions about SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) was NPR’s “Coronavirus FAQs”, which was a cornerstone of the news organization’s pandemic coverage. 

The section answered the latest and most pressing questions from the public as scientists’ and doctors’ understanding about the virus evolved. Freelance journalist Fran Kritz was one of the chief writers of these deeply reported FAQs, writing about topics such as the safety of ordering take-out food in April 2020 or if it was safe to fly without a mask in early 2023.  

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These tools add important social context
to public health stories

cdc social vulnerability index

These maps from the CDC/ATSDR Social Vulnerability Index show the range of vulnerability in Fulton County, Ga., using four metrics. Public domain image

Federal, state and local officials use risk assessment tools called “social vulnerability indices” to identify places that may be hit harder by natural disasters and public health emergencies. These indices help officials decide where to send water, food, medical personnel and supplies during those situations and their aftermath. Some indices are being applied to track disease disparities and identify unmet social needs that make some Americans more vulnerable to illnesses. 

Journalists can use these resources to bring equity-related context to stories about public health and how vaccination initiatives, pollution enforcement, food insecurity and economic tax break patterns, among other factors, can influence it.

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5 reports look at causes of health disparities in the U.S.

map showing redlining in Little Rock, Arkansas

This map of Little Rock, Ark. was issued by the Home Owner’s Loan Corporation. Historical records show that the red areas — which were rated as “hazardous” — were neighborhoods home to Black residents. According to population data lined to the map, Black Americans represented at least 30% of the population in some of those areas. Some worked in lumber plants, shops, and private homes as housekeepers, according to archival sources. Click the map for an interactive map showing how this practice, known as “redlining”, led to social vulnerability in those neighborhoods today.
Source: Robert K. Nelson and Edward L. Ayers, accessed May 10, 2023

Stories about health disparities — even ones about CDC statistics — need context about the social causes that contribute to them. Five academic reports about the history of laws and policies regulating key determinants of health offer those nuances. Critically, these reports expose how intentionally discriminatory legislation and regulation in housing, education, employment and other areas have influenced poor health outcomes in Americans of color — and may continue to for many years.

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How a press release sparked a story
about critical services for sexual assault survivors

Arielle Zionts

Arielle Zionts (Photo courtesy of Kaiser Family Foundation)

Soon after Arielle Zionts, a rural health reporter for Kaiser Health News, read a press release about telehealth services for sexual assault survivors living in the rural U.S, she was inspired to pursue a story about it. Her article, published in January 2023, also addresses the shortage of sexual assault nurse examiners, also known as SANEs, in those parts of the country.

In this “How I Did It”, Zionts explains how she found the sources for her story, some of the challenges she faced in her reporting and shares story ideas.

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