Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in OA
Osteoarthritis (OA) affects people of all ages, ethnic backgrounds, racial identities, gender identities, and socioeconomic statuses. It is estimated that over 32.5 million U.S. adults have OA, exemplifying the need for diverse health professionals that can relate to the patient populations they serve. As early detection of the signs and symptoms of OA can better equip providers and patients in selecting the most appropriate management pathways for the disease, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in healthcare plays a direct role in impacting patient health outcomes and influencing a person’s quality of life. Before looking closer at DEI in the management of OA, let us define what diversity, equity, and inclusion means:
Diversity – The presence of differences that may include race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, nationality, socioeconomic status, language, disability, age, religion, and political perspective.
Equity – Promoting justice, impartiality, and fairness within the procedures, processes, and distribution of resources by institutions or systems.
Inclusion – Ensuring those that are diverse feel welcomed, and the degree to which diverse individuals can participate fully in the decision-making process and development of opportunities within an organization.
Ensuring DEI initiatives are emphasized in healthcare organizations allow providers and health systems to better reflect the communities they serve, improve cultural competency, and reduce health disparities. The expansion of DEI initiatives regarding OA can take various forms. Some popular initiatives adopted by healthcare organizations include:
- Promoting inclusive public policies that remove obstacles towards all adults with OA leading healthy lives.
- Low-cost pain management options such as exercise classes, physical therapy, or educational material to minimize socioeconomic barriers to treatment for OA.
- Uplifting grassroots/minority voices to allow a multitude of stories to be shared, while subsequently reaching a wider audience of individuals with OA.
- Recruiting under-represented minorities to work in healthcare organizations.
- Working with specific under-represented populations to identify and remove barriers to seeking equitable treatment for OA.
- Appointing DEI subcommittees to keep organizations accountable for meeting goals related to DEI.
- Conducting inclusive research to represent various patient populations.
To get real diversity of thought, you need to find the people who genuinely hold different views and invite them into the conversation.