The Promise of Equity: A Review of Health Equity Research in High-Impact Quality Improvement Journals

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Equity is a core domain of health care quality. This study characterizes equity research in the quality improvement (QI) literature. The data sources were all review articles, methodology articles, original research, and research letters/abstracts published in 5 high-impact QI journals in 2015. Using the Institute of Medicine definition of equity, 2 reviewers assessed the abstracts to identify equity-focused articles. The number of Google Scholar citations and study site were recorded for each abstract. For equity-focused studies, the equity topic was recorded. Of 684 abstracts, 63 (9.2%) investigated equity topics. A weighted average of 7.4% of abstracts examined equity. The most commonly studied equity topics were health care resource scarcity, race/ethnicity, and mental health. Equity-focused articles received equal citations and were more likely to be conducted in low-/middle-income countries when compared with articles unrelated to equity. Few articles published in 5 leading QI journals addressed topics related to equity.

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