Reducing Health Disparities in Radiology Through Social Determinants of Health: Lessons From the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Acad Radiol. 2021 May 14:S1076-6332(21)00194-X. doi: 10.1016/j.acra.2021.04.006. Online ahead of print.


During the COVID-19 pandemic, the disproportionate morbidity and mortality borne by racial minorities, patients of lower socioeconomic status, and patients lacking health insurance reflect the critical role of social determinants of health, which are manifestations of entrenched structural inequities. In radiology, social determinants of health lead to disparate use of imaging services through multiple intersecting contributors, on both the provider and patient side, affecting diagnosis and treatment. Disparities on the provider side include ordering of initial or follow-up imaging studies and providing standard-of-care interventional procedures, while patient factors include differences in awareness of screening exams and confidence in the healthcare system. Disparate utilization of mammography and lung cancer screening lead to delayed diagnosis, while differential provision of minimally invasive interventional procedures contributes to differential outcomes related to treatment. Interventions designed to mitigate social determinants of health could help to equalize the healthcare system. Here we review disparities in access and health outcomes in radiology. We investigate underlying contributing factors in order to identify potential policy changes that could promote more equitable health in radiology.

PMID:34001438 | DOI:10.1016/j.acra.2021.04.006