Healthcare Discrimination: a Barrier to Quality and Equitable Care

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 868 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Mar 16, 2024

Words: 868|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Mar 16, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Impact of Healthcare Discrimination on Patient Outcomes
  2. Factors Contributing to Healthcare Discrimination
  3. Addressing Healthcare Discrimination
  4. Conclusion
  5. References

Healthcare discrimination is a pervasive issue that continues to impact individuals from marginalized communities, resulting in disparities in access to quality and equitable care. Discrimination within the healthcare system can manifest in various forms, including racial, ethnic, gender-based, and socio-economic discrimination. This essay aims to explore the detrimental effects of healthcare discrimination on patient outcomes, the underlying factors contributing to this issue, and potential strategies to address and mitigate healthcare discrimination.

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Impact of Healthcare Discrimination on Patient Outcomes

Healthcare discrimination has profound implications for patient outcomes, contributing to disparities in health status, access to care, and treatment outcomes. Research indicates that individuals who experience discrimination within the healthcare system are more likely to delay seeking care, receive substandard treatment, and have poorer health outcomes compared to their counterparts who do not face discrimination (Paradies et al., 2015). For instance, a study conducted by Smedley et al. (2019) found that African American patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension are less likely to receive appropriate management and follow-up care due to discriminatory practices within healthcare settings.

Furthermore, healthcare discrimination can exacerbate existing health disparities among marginalized populations, leading to higher rates of chronic diseases, mental health conditions, and overall reduced quality of life. For example, transgender individuals often encounter discrimination and bias from healthcare providers, leading to inadequate access to gender-affirming care and increased risk of mental health issues and suicide (James et al., 2016). These findings underscore the detrimental impact of healthcare discrimination on patient outcomes and the urgent need to address this pervasive issue.

Factors Contributing to Healthcare Discrimination

Several factors contribute to the perpetuation of healthcare discrimination, including implicit biases among healthcare providers, structural inequalities within the healthcare system, and systemic racism and sexism. Implicit biases, which are unconscious attitudes and stereotypes that influence individuals' perceptions and behaviors, can significantly impact clinical decision-making and patient-provider interactions (FitzGerald & Hurst, 2017). Studies have shown that healthcare providers from diverse backgrounds hold implicit biases that may lead to differential treatment of patients based on their race, ethnicity, or gender (Hall et al., 2015).

Moreover, the structural inequalities embedded within the healthcare system, such as lack of cultural competence training, unequal distribution of resources, and limited access to care for underserved communities, contribute to the perpetuation of healthcare discrimination. For instance, individuals from low-income backgrounds may face barriers to accessing quality healthcare services, resulting in disparate health outcomes compared to their affluent counterparts (Chen et al., 2019). Additionally, systemic racism and sexism within healthcare institutions further exacerbate healthcare discrimination, as evidenced by disparities in maternal health outcomes for Black women and inadequate reproductive healthcare for women of color (Creanga et al., 2017).

Addressing Healthcare Discrimination

Addressing healthcare discrimination requires a multifaceted approach that encompasses policy changes, education and training for healthcare providers, and community engagement efforts. Policy interventions aimed at eliminating healthcare discrimination should focus on implementing anti-discrimination laws, promoting diversity and inclusion in healthcare settings, and ensuring equitable access to care for all individuals. Additionally, healthcare organizations should prioritize cultural competence training for providers to enhance their understanding of diverse patient populations and mitigate implicit biases in clinical practice (FitzGerald & Hurst, 2017).

Furthermore, community engagement efforts that involve collaboration with marginalized communities can help identify and address healthcare discrimination at the grassroots level. By actively involving patients and community advocates in decision-making processes, healthcare institutions can gain valuable insights into the specific needs and concerns of diverse populations, leading to more responsive and equitable care delivery. Additionally, fostering partnerships with community-based organizations and advocacy groups can amplify efforts to combat healthcare discrimination and promote health equity.

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Healthcare discrimination remains a significant barrier to achieving quality and equitable care for all individuals. The detrimental impact of healthcare discrimination on patient outcomes, coupled with the underlying factors contributing to this issue, underscores the urgent need for comprehensive interventions to address and mitigate healthcare discrimination. By implementing policy changes, providing education and training for healthcare providers, and engaging with communities, healthcare institutions can work towards eliminating healthcare discrimination and fostering a healthcare system that is inclusive, equitable, and responsive to the needs of all individuals.


  • Chen, J., Vargas-Bustamante, A., Mortensen, K., & Ortega, A. N. (2019). Racial and ethnic healthcare disparities: A cross-sectional analysis of U.S. adults. Health Services Research, 54(6), 1407-1428.
  • Creanga, A. A., Syverson, C., & Seed, K. (2017). Callaghan, W. M. Pregnancy-related mortality in the United States, 2011-2013. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 130(2), 366-373.
  • FitzGerald, C., & Hurst, S. (2017). Implicit bias in healthcare professionals: A systematic review. BMC Medical Ethics, 18(1), 19.
  • Hall, W. J., Chapman, M. V., Lee, K. M., Merino, Y. M., Thomas, T. W., Payne, B. K., ... & Coyne-Beasley, T. (2015). Implicit racial/ethnic bias among healthcare professionals and its influence on healthcare outcomes: A systematic review. American Journal of Public Health, 105(12), e60-e76.
  • James, S. E., Herman, J. L., Rankin, S., Keisling, M., Mottet, L., & Anafi, M. (2016). The Report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey. National Center for Transgender Equality.
  • Paradies, Y., Ben, J., Denson, N., Elias, A., Priest, N., Pieterse, A., ... & Gee, G. (2015). Racism as a determinant of health: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PloS One, 10(9), e0138511.
  • Smedley, B. D., Stith, A. Y., & Nelson, A. R. (Eds.). (2019). Unequal treatment: Confronting racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare. National Academies Press.
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    Healthcare Discrimination: A Barrier to Quality and Equitable Care. (2024, March 15). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 20, 2024, from
    “Healthcare Discrimination: A Barrier to Quality and Equitable Care.” GradesFixer, 15 Mar. 2024,
    Healthcare Discrimination: A Barrier to Quality and Equitable Care. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 20 Jun. 2024].
    Healthcare Discrimination: A Barrier to Quality and Equitable Care [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Mar 15 [cited 2024 Jun 20]. Available from:
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