Rethinking Health Disparities

Rethinking Health Disparities by Zachary Robert Caverley

Every problem exists within a frame of mind that determines its available analysis and solutions. If this frame is narrowed, no matter how noble or ideological the intention, it is likely that the answers produced will be at variance with reality. In most of the contemporary medical literature dealing with health disparities, the answer to the problem is predetermined and it is invariably some combination of discrimination, privilege, bias, and power structures. Seldom is evidence in support of these claims provided—the burden of proof is passed instead to those who wish to refute them. The indirect effect of this may be to lead future generations of healthcare professionals to see oppression where it does not exist, to promote needless intergroup antagonism, and to misallocate medical risk based on poorly developed medical philosophy and data. If the goal is to correct health disparities (as it ought to be), analysis of those disparities should be held to the same scientific standards as medical interventions, not least because they are of equal importance.

True progress in medicine can only be accomplished when we maintain a consistent standard of scientific excellence and honest inquiry. Masochistically engaging in the flagellation of the medical profession and stating we are “failing” certain communities has done little to actually help those in need.

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