Closing the Gap: Solutions to Race-Based Health Disparities, 2005

On November 6, 2013 Applied Research Center (ARC) was rebranded as Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation. The content on this page was published on the ARC website prior to the rebrand.
July 15, 2005

The report documents the persistent problems experienced by communities of color attempting to access health care services across the nation. With a review of the latest research on health disparities, in-depth field research and comprehensive case studies, Closing the Gap reinvigorates the debate over what may be the nation's greatest public health challenge—the persistent racial divide in access to comprehensive, quality health services.

"The health care system as a whole provides vastly unequal access and treatment based on race, language, and ethnicity. Racism within the health system is literally making people of color sick," noted Will Pittz, organizer at the Northwest Federation of Community Organizations and lead author of the report. "The report's case studies articulate real solutions to the difficult problem of race-based health inequality. From an edible garden in Berkeley, to city-wide reform of the public health system in Washington, D.C., Closing the Gap highlights successes at the critical intersection of racial justice and health policy."

Closing the Gap describes the institutional and structural barriers that block access to quality care for people of color. Disputing the claims that racial disparities in health are based in biology or entirely attributable to socioeconomic status, "Closing the Gap" reveals that race and socioeconomic status together shape the obstacles individuals face as they seek quality health care.

Its key recommendations include:

  • Eliminating disparities in access to health insurance;
  • Developing health care institutions that are welcoming and respectful to people of different races and ethnicities;
  • Tracking racial disparities in health care provision;
  • Providing medical interpretation services for all clinical encounters;
  • And improving access to traditional and non-Western treatments.
  • Closing the Gap also features case studies gathered from across the nation:
  • Building a System of Accessible, Welcoming, High Quality Care : The Southcentral Foundation, Anchorage, Alaska
  • Providing Language Access for All : Bellevue Hospital, New York City
  • Expanding Health Coverage : D.C. Healthy Families, Washington, D.C.
  • Improving Diet and Exercise : Tohono O'odham Community Action, Sells, Arizona
  • Improving School Nutrition : The Edible Schoolyard, Berkeley, California
  • Addressing Community Problems From a Health Perspective : St. Thomas Health Services, New Orleans, LA

Related Documents:

Closing the Gap Full Report & Closing the Gap Executive Summary. To download these documents  in PDF format, complete the form on this page.

News Release: New Report Reveals Solutions that "Close the Gap" on Racial Disparity in Health