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Review IDs Reasons for Disparities in Headache Treatment

THURSDAY, June 10, 2021 -- Racism, socioeconomic status, insurance status, and geographical disparities contribute to inequities in the treatment of headache, according to a review published online June 9 in Neurology.

Jessica Kiarashi, M.D., from the UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and colleagues reviewed issues related to health care disparities in headache medicine with respect to race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and geography. The literature was reviewed for key concepts underlying disparities; through discussion with experts, content was refined to areas most relevant to the goal of informing provision of equitable care.

The researchers identified a multitude of factors, including racism, socioeconomic status and insurance status, and geographic disparities, which contribute to inequities in the health care system relating to treatment of headache disorders. Solutions to improve disparities include interventions such as improving public education, advocacy, optimizing telemedicine, engaging in community outreach to educate primary care providers, training providers in cultural sensitivity and competence and implicit bias, addressing health literacy, and developing recruitment strategies to increase representation of underserved groups within headache research.

"Race is a social construct that as a vehicle for systemic racism has profound impacts," Kiarashi said in a statement. "Abolishing these racial, socioeconomic, and geographic inequities would require major cultural shifts in our society. This is a call for reflection and action at the individual, community, institutional, and societal level. This is a movement for long overdue change."

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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