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Introduction to the Mechanisms of Health Disparities - 1 CME Credit

Definitions, determinants, and strategies for addressing disparity

Start Date: December 19, 2017
Duration: ~ 1 hour
Price: $49

Course Description

Course registration is currently closed while we upgrade our learning platform with enhanced functionality and self-service options for learners. If you would like to be notified when the course re-opens in March 2020, please click here.

[This course is one of five in the program Health Care Disparities: An Introduction, which can be purchased together for a discount.]

In the United States and around the world, there has been growing recognition of the marked disparities in access to and delivery of health care depending on one’s gender, race, socioeconomic status and country of residence. This can lead to major inequities in health care outcomes, and devastating personal, public health and global consequences.

The target audiences for this course are physicians (both primary care and specialists) and other care providers who need to be aware of these disparities and understand how they may impact the health of individual patients as well as the health of societies. Another target audience is researchers and policy-makers who need to be aware of the social determinants of health and health care and methodologies for studying and addressing them.

This course focuses on topics related to the definitions of health and health care disparity, conceptual and methodological disparities and discrimination in health care, and the social determinants of such disparities. Introduction to the Mechanisms of Health Disparities is part of a larger program in health care disparity which also includes:

  • Recognizing Global Health Care Disparities
  • Researching Disparity: Methodology and Models
  • Caring for Refugees and Asylum Seekers
  • Health Care Access and Delivery in the US

What You'll Learn

  • Define health disparities vs health care disparities and the factors that lead to each
  • Identify the role of social determinants in health and health care and strategies for addressing each
  • Recognize the role discrimination plays in health care and health care delivery


Margarita Alegría, PhD

Margarita Alegría, PhD Professor, Departments of Medicine and Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; Chief, Disparities Research Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital

 Seth A. Berkowitz, MD, PhD

Seth A. Berkowitz, MD, PhD Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; General Internist/Primary Care Physician, Division of General Internal Medicine and Diabetes Population Health, Massachusetts General Hospital

Thomas G. McGuire, PhD

Thomas G. McGuire, PhD Professor of Health Economics, Harvard Medical School; Research Associate, National Bureau of Economic Research


Introduction to the Mechanisms of Health Disparities is organized as follows:

Precourse Information:
Accreditation and AMA Credit Designation
Disclosure Statement
How to Take This Course
Viewing Videos
Grading and Certificates

An Overview of the Mechanisms of Health Disparities
Introducing the Panel
Definitions: Health and Health Care Disparity
Differences, Disparities, and Discrimination in Health Care: Conceptual and Methodological Issues
Social Determinants
Panel Discussion

CME Certificate
CME Posttest
Course Evaluation



The Harvard Medical School is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.


The Harvard Medical School designates this enduring material for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.


Disclosure Policy

Harvard Medical School has long held the standard that its continuing medical education courses be free of commercial bias.

In accord with the disclosure policy of the Medical School as well as standards set forth by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, course planners, speakers, and content reviewers have been asked to disclose any relevant relationship they, or their spouse or partner, have to companies producing, marketing, re-selling or distributing health care goods or services consumed by, or used on, patients. In addition, faculty have been asked to list any off-label uses of pharmaceuticals and/or devices for investigational or non-FDA approved purposes that they plan to discuss.

Such disclosure is not intended to suggest or condone bias in any presentation, but is elicited to provide the course director and participants with information that might be of potential importance to their evaluation of a given presentation.

Disclosure Statement

All individuals including course directors, planners, reviewers, faculty, staff, etc., who are in a position to control the content of this educational activity have, on behalf of themselves and their spouse or partner, reported no financial relationships related to the content of this activity.


Dr. Carolyn Becker is an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and master clinician educator in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Hypertension at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. In 2007, she joined the faculty at Brigham and Women’s Hospital as a clinician-educator specializing in endocrinology with a particular interest in osteoporosis and metabolic bone diseases. She is co-director of the Annual Brigham and Women’s Intensive Review of Internal Medicine (IRIM) course and an active participant in the education of medical students, residents, fellows, and physicians. Dr. Becker is a former vice president of the Endocrine Society and former chair of the society’s annual educational meeting, Clinical Endocrinology Update. She currently heads the Calcium Section for the society’s Endocrine Board Review. In 2016, she was recognized as a Distinguished Clinician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and she is the recipient of the 2018 Outstanding Educator Award from the Endocrine Society.

Dr. Margarita Alegría is the chief of the Disparities Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, and a professor in the Departments of Medicine and Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Alegría is currently the PI of four National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded research studies: International Latino Research Partnership; Effects of Social Context, Culture and Minority Status on Depression and Anxiety; Building Community Capacity for Disability Prevention for Minority Elders; and Mechanisms Underlying Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Mental Disorders. She is also the co-PI of a William T. Grant Foundation project, titled Understanding the Experience of Majority and Minority Status through Photovoice. Dr. Alegría has published over 200 papers, editorials, intervention training manuals, and several book chapters on topics such as improvement of health care services delivery for diverse racial and ethnic populations, conceptual and methodological issues with multicultural populations, and ways to bring the community’s perspective into the design and implementation of health services.

As an acknowledgement of her contributions to her field, Dr. Alegría has been widely recognized and cited. Among the many awards: the Mental Health Section Award from the American Public Health Association, 2003; the Health Disparities Innovation Award from the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities, 2008; the Carl Taube Award from the American Public Health Association, 2008; the Simon Bolivar Award from the American Psychiatric Association, 2009; and the Award of Excellence from the National Hispanic Science Network on Drug Abuse, 2011. In October 2011, she was elected as a member of the Institute of Medicine. In addition, Dr. Alegría was selected as El Planeta’s (Massachusetts’s largest circulating Spanish-language newspaper) 2013 Powermeter 100’s most influential people for the Hispanic community in Massachusetts.


How long will this course take?

This course should take approximately 1 hours to complete. You do not need to complete it all at once. You may come back as often as you like.

How long will this course be available?

This self-paced course will close enrollments two years after its start date.

What web browser should I use?

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What if I want to learn more about this topic?

HMS Continuing Education holds live topic-focused conferences throughout the year. Please see our course catalog for upcoming events.