Neurologist’s Role in Addressing Healthcare Disparities: A. Gordon Smith, MD, FAAN


The professor and chair of neurology at Virginia Commonwealth University discussed how neurologists are urged to take organized action and provide training on healthcare disparities, with a particular focus on race, ethnicity, and financial barriers to access. [WATCH TIME: 2 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 2 minutes

"I think this is a real call to action to provide training to neurologists, advanced practice providers, and other team members with whom we work about health care disparities. I was struck that only 50% of respondents to the survey thought race and ethnicity was a driver of disparities in health care. I think the number is probably a lot higher than that now."

Social determinants of health (SDOH) are important contributors to health outcomes, and better understanding their impact on patients diagnosed with generalized myasthenia gravis (gMG), a chronic neuromuscular junction disorder, is critical to improve care. SDOH has emerged as a key consideration in the field as barriers in SDOH can be associated with increased health risks and implicit bias that can affect clinical interactions with the patient and their outcomes.1 In a recent study published in Frontiers in Public Health, researchers suggest that more knowledge of the impact of SDOH on individuals’ support needs is also vital for gMG support networks to reach patients who may benefit the most from them.2

Presented at the American Association of Neuromuscular & Electrodiagnostic Medicine (AANEM) meeting, held November 1-4, in Phoenix, Arizona, a new survey of neurologists in the United States highlighted inequalities to treatment access among patients with gMG who faced SDOH challenges.3 The online survey, sent out to neurologists by email, was constructed of 42 items on topics of healthcare access. The items in the survey centered on demographics, diagnosis, treatment, and continuity of care in patients with gMG who were considered as experiencing SDOH challenges.

Senior author A. Gordon Smith, MD, FAAN, professor and chair of neurology at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), who also serves as the Kenneth and Dianne Wright Distinguished Chair in clinical and translational research at VCU, sat down in an interview with NeurologyLive® to discuss how can neurologists and healthcare providers can better educate themselves and their teams on addressing healthcare disparities. In addition, he talked about the role that race, ethnicity, and financial toxicity plays in driving health inequities, especially in access to therapies. Additionally, Smith spoke about how healthcare professionals can integrate questions about patients' affordability and access into routine clinical practice.

Click here for more coverage on AANEM 2023.

1. Hall WJ, Chapman MV, Lee KM, et al. Implicit Racial/Ethnic Bias Among Health Care Professionals and Its Influence on Health Care Outcomes: A Systematic Review. Am J Public Health. 2015;105(12):e60-e76. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2015.302903
2. Hughes T, Anderson AEL, Habib AA, et al. Impact of social determinants of health on individuals living with generalized myasthenia gravis and implications for patient support programs. Front Public Health. 2023;11:1147489. Published 2023 May 19. doi:10.3389/fpubh.2023.1147489
3. Wright N, Gelinas D, Nisbet P, et al. Treatment-Related Inequities in Patients With Generalized Myasthenia Gravis Facing Social Determinants of Health Challenges: A Survey of Neurologists in the United States. Presented at: American Association of Neuromuscular & Electrodiagnostic Medicine (AANEM) meeting; November 1-4, 2023; Phoenix, AZ. Abstract 139.
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