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Committee Opinion No. 649 Summary

Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Obstetrics and Gynecology

doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000001208
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ABSTRACT: Projections suggest that people of color will represent most of the U.S. population by 2050, and yet significant racial and ethnic disparities persist in women’s health and health care. Although socioeconomic status accounts for some of these disparities, factors at the patient, practitioner, and health care system levels contribute to existing and evolving disparities in women’s health outcomes. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is committed to the elimination of racial and ethnic disparities in the health and health care of women and encourages obstetrician–gynecologists and other health care providers to engage in activities to help achieve this goal.

For a comprehensive overview of these recommendations, the full-text version of this Committee Opinion is available at

Committee on Health Care for Underserved WomenThis information should not be construed as dictating an exclusive course of treatment or procedure to be followed.

Copyright December 2015 by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 409 12th Street, SW, PO Box 96920, Washington, DC 20090-6920. All rights reserved.

Official Citation: Racial and ethnic disparities in obstetrics and gynecology. Committee Opinion No. 649. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Obstet Gynecol 2015;126:e130–4.

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Reducing racial and ethnic disparities in health and health care should be a priority for all obstetrician–gynecologists and other women’s health care providers. Obstetrician– gynecologists can help to meet this objective by

  • raising awareness among colleagues, residents, staff, and hospital administrators about the prevalence of racial and ethnic disparities and the effect on health outcomes
  • understanding the role that practitioner bias can play in health outcomes and health care
  • strongly encouraging the adoption of federal standards for collection of race and ethnicity information in clinical and administrative data to better identify disparities
  • promoting research that not only identifies structural and cultural barriers to care but also tests the effectiveness of interventions to address such barriers
  • educating patients in a culturally sensitive manner about steps they can take to prevent disease conditions that are prevalent in their racial and ethnic groups
  • supporting and assisting in the recruitment of obstetrician–gynecologists and other health care providers from racial and ethnic minorities into academic and community health care fields
© 2015 by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.