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Health Care Disparities - An Introduction

Exploring disparities and inequities in health and health care

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 these. In this new and timely course, disparities and inequities in health and health care will be explored from diverse perspectives, bringing together researchers, clinicians, and educators who are the premier leaders in their fields. Educational methodologies including stimulating interviews, panel discussions, and lectures will be followed by questions to test the knowledge of the learners.

What You'll Learn

  • Identify the role of social determinants in health and health care and strategies for addressing each
  • Recognize disparities in disease diagnosis, access and care for specific populations and specialties
  • Discuss the impact of insurance coverage on health care disparity and the role played by socioeconomic status
  • Define the difference between refugees and asylum seekers and identify health care needs unique to each population
  • Discuss the history that led to the current system of health care in the US and define the key aspects of the Affordable Care Act

  • Average Length
    2 weeks per course
  • Effort
    1-2 hours per week, per course
  • Number of Courses
    5 courses in program
  • Price (USD)
    $267 for entire program

Courses in the Professional Program

Become more aware of disparities in health and health care delivery on a global scale and recognize how it may impact your patients.
Starts on December 19, 2017
Learn to identify social and racial inequalities in specific areas of health care delivery including neurology, cardiology, behavioral health, cancer, and palliative care.
Starts on December 19, 2017
This course focuses on topics related to the research methods and models used to identify health and health care disparities as well as how socioeconomic status relates to insurance coverage.
Starts on December 19, 2017
Learn the difference between these two populations, the impact of their journeys on health, and how to approach treatment in light of fears they may have.
Starts on December 19, 2017
Join one of the authors of the Affordable Care Act in a discussion about the history of the US health care system and where its future lies.
Starts on December 19, 2017


Margarita Alegría, PhD
Professor, Departments of Medicine and Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; Chief, Disparities Research Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital
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
Professor of Health Economics, Harvard Medical School; Research Associate, National Bureau of Economic Research
Katrina A. Armstrong, MD, MSCE
Jackson Professor of Clinical Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Chair, Department of Medicine, Physician-in-Chief, Massachusetts General Hospital
Cheryl R. Clark MD, ScD
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician and Social Epidemiologist, Division of General Internal Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Nwamaka Eneanya, MD, MPH
Instructor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School; Attending Nephrologist at Massachusetts General Hospital
Nicte I. Mejia, MD, MPH
Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School; Director of Neurology Community Health, Diversity, and Inclusion Initiatives and Director of Departmental Community Health Improvement Initiatives, Massachusetts General Hospital
Benjamin Cook, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; Director, Center for Multicultural Mental Health Research and Health Equity Research Lab, Cambridge Health Alliance
Dharma E. Cortés, PhD
Instructor, Harvard Medical School; Senior Scientist, Health Equity Laboratory at Cambridge Health Alliance; Senior Research Associate at the Mauricio Gastón Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy, University of Massachusetts Boston
Vicki Fung, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Senior Scientist, Mongan Institute Health Policy Center, Massachusetts General Hospital
Sarah Kimball, MD
Assistant Professor, Boston University School of Medicine
Carolyn Becker, MD
Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Master Clinician Educator in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Hypertension, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Donald Berwick, MD, MPP, FRCP
President Emeritus and Senior Fellow, Institute for Healthcare Improvement

Frequently Asked Questions

How long will each course take?

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

How long will this course be available?

Each self-paced course will end December 19, 2019.

What web browser should I use?

The platform works best with current versions of Chrome, Firefox or Safari, or with Internet Explorer version 11 and above. See our list of supported browsers for the most up-to-date information.