Eliminating Health Disparities Through Integration



A report, Eliminating Health Disparities through Culturally and Linguistically Centered Integrated Health Care Care:Consensus Statements, Recommendations, and Key Strategies from the Field was released in May 2014. It is the result of an expert consensus meeting convened by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health convened to:

  • formulate consensus statements,
  • provide recommendations, and
  • identify key strategies from practice for implementing integrated health and behavioral health care intended to improve health status for underserved populations.

The report is coauthored by Teresa Chapa, PhD, MPA, along with Katherine Sanchez, LCSW, PhD; Rick Ybarra, MA; and Octavio N. Martinez, Jr., MD, MPH, MBA.

While there is growing attention in research and the literature about integrated behavioral health and primary care, little attention has been paid to integrated care as a strategy for reducing health disparities. Using the AHRQ Academy definition from the Lexicon for Behavioral Health and Primary Care Integration, this consensus report notes that integrated care is “gaining significant momentum across the nation as a preferred approach to providing optimal care for behavioral health conditions, one that is more accessible and less stigmatizing than referral to specialty behavioral health care settings.”

The consensus panel examined the role of integration in eliminating health disparities, and, based on the most current and relevant literature,

“concluded that the improvement of behavioral health and physical health outcomes and the elimination of disparities for racial and ethnic minority and [limited English Proficiency] LEP populations can best be addressed by the integration of behavioral health and primary care services. The consensus statements and recommendations are intended to inform a broad audience of health and behavioral health care providers, educators, advocates, patients/ consumers and their families, researchers and policy makers. The goal of integrated care for racial and ethnic minority and LEP populations is to eliminate health disparities by focusing on the specific behavioral health care needs of populations who prefer treatment from their primary care physician and for whom disparities in behavioral health care prohibit access and result in poorer quality of care.”

The report also noted that implementation of these recommendations will

“require the comprehensive, persistent commitment of local, state and national leaders, especially as they relate to funding mechanisms, barriers that impede implementation, policies that help grow and sustain integrated health care programs, and data collection and research that enhance our knowledge base of how best to improve America’s health care system.”

The panel also called for this agenda to be widely distributed to medical and behavioral health care providers to reduce health disparities for underserved populations and to improve the health care delivery system overall.


An abstract of the report is at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Eliminating+Health+Disparities+through+Culturally+and+Linguistically+Centered+Integrated+Health+Care%3A+Consensus+Statements%2C+Recommendations%2C+and+Key+Strategies+from+the+Field  .

The full report is available for a fee at:   http://muse.jhu.edu/login?auth=0&type=summary&url=/journals/journal_of_health_care_for_the_poor_and_underserved/v025/25.2.makariou-pikis.html