An American Thoracic Society/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Workshop Report: Addressing Respiratory Health Equality in the United States

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Abstract

Health disparities related to race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status persist and are commonly encountered by practitioners of pediatric and adult pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine in the United States. To address such disparities and thus progress toward equality in respiratory health, the American Thoracic Society and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute convened a workshop in May of 2015. The workshop participants addressed health disparities by focusing on six topics, each of which concluded with a panel discussion that proposed recommendations for research on racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine. Such recommendations address best practices to advance research on respiratory health disparities (e.g., characterize broad ethnic groups into subgroups known to differ with regard to a disease of interest), risk factors for respiratory health disparities (e.g., study the impact of new tobacco or nicotine products on respiratory diseases in minority populations), addressing equity in access to healthcare and quality of care (e.g., conduct longitudinal studies of the impact of the Affordable Care Act on respiratory and sleep disorders), the impact of personalized medicine on disparities research (e.g., implement large studies of pharmacogenetics in minority populations), improving design and methodology for research studies in respiratory health disparities (e.g., use study designs that reduce participants' burden and foster trust by engaging participants as decision-makers), and achieving equity in the pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine workforce (e.g., develop and maintain robust mentoring programs for junior faculty, including local and external mentors). Addressing these research needs should advance efforts to reduce, and potentially eliminate, respiratory, sleep, and critical care disparities in the United States.

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