New Study Highlights Impact of Systemic Racism and Economic Inequality on COVID-19 Disparities

New Study Highlights Impact of Systemic Racism and Economic Inequality on COVID-19 Disparities Image

In the recent publication titled “How systemic racism and economic inequality contributed to COVID-19 disparities in America” in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), a distinguished team of researchers collaborates to address critical health disparities.

These researchers include:

  • Keisha Bentley-Edwards, Associate Director of Research at the Cook Center and Director of the Health Equity Working Group.
  • Whitney R. Robinson, faculty epidemiologist and Associate Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Duke University’s School of Medicine.
  • Elizabeth S. McClure, Doctor of Philosophy candidate at the Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, specializing in Epidemiology.
  • Olanrewaju Adisa, Doctor of Medicine Candidate at Duke School of Medicine and Research Assistant at the Cook Center.
  • Kennedy Ruff, Health Equity Research Associate at the Cook Center.

The research highlights that COVID-19 has significantly affected racialized Americans, showing higher rates of hospitalization and mortality compared to their white counterparts. This disparity is especially pronounced among young and middle-aged adults within these communities. The authors argue that systemic racism, economic inequality, and racial capitalism are key drivers of the health disparities that have led to worse outcomes for racialized Americans during the pandemic.

Despite increased awareness of systemic inequalities in the United States due to the pandemic, the study notes that little progress has been made in addressing these critical issues. To combat health inequities and ensure equitable access to care, the paper calls for a concerted effort to eliminate systemic racism and center anti-racist practices in public health strategies.

This study serves as a critical call to action for policymakers, healthcare providers, and the public to address the root causes of health disparities and work towards a more equitable and just society.

Dr. Bentley-Edwards’ research focuses on how racism, gender, and culture influence development throughout the lifespan, especially for African Americans. She regularly shares her expertise on the role of structural racism and bias on health, education and social outcomes with families, policymakers, practitioners, and the media. Dr. Bentley-Edwards is committed to eliminating racism and its effects on equitable outcomes in health systems, schools, and society.


Access the full BMJ article here.

Access this research our Cook Center website here, under "Journal Articles"