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Advancing Health Equity Through Research and Advocacy

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At Children’s National Hospital, we pride ourselves on not only being a top-tier research institution, but on being a hospital that cares about the community we serve. There is much work to be done to achieve health equity for our children.

In the United States, there is a growing body of evidence showing disparities in healthcare treatment – and patient outcomes – based on race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status. Our clinicians and researchers conduct significant studies on these disparate health outcomes in order to identify trends, understand the underlying problems children face and increase awareness of these important issues to help advocate for change.

Disparities Research

These studies represent a sample of the ongoing disparities research conducted at Children’s National: 

Structural Racism and Childhood Obesity Epidemic in Black Youth

In a recent article published in Childhood Obesity, Eleanor Mackey, Ph.D., a psychologist at Children's National Hospital, along with other clinicians, discussed how racism and childhood obesity are both pervasive factors adversely affecting the health and wellbeing of children and adolescents in the United States.

COVID-Linked Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome in Children diagnosed more in Black and Latino children

Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) significantly affected more Black and Latino children than white children, with Black children at the highest risk, according to a new observational study of 124 pediatric patients treated at Children’s National Hospital.

Ethnicity, Geography and Socioeconomic Factors Determine Likelihood of Detecting Serious Congenital Heart Defects Before Birth

A study led by Anita Krishnan, M.D., associate director of echocardiography at Children's National Hospital, finds that mothers who are Hispanic or who come from rural or low socioeconomic status neighborhoods are less likely to have their child’s critical heart condition diagnosed before birth.

Intentional Youth Firearm Injuries Linked to Sociodemographic Factors

This study found that sociodemographic factors related to intent of injury by firearm may be useful in guiding policy and informing tailored interventions for the prevention of firearm injuries in low-income youth. 

Low Parental Socioeconomic Status During Pregnancy Alters Early Fetal Brain Development

Maternal socioeconomic status impacts babies even before birth, emphasizing the need for policy interventions to support the well-being of pregnant women, according to research from Children’s National Hospital.

Black and Hispanic Adolescents Significantly More Likely to Die by Police Intervention than Whites

A study evaluating the use of force by police against children found that Black and Hispanic adolescents are significantly more likely to die from shootings related to police intervention compared to non-Hispanic white adolescents.

COVID-19 Rates Higher Among Minority Children Experiencing Socioeconomic Barriers

Minority children experiencing socioeconomic barriers have significantly higher rates of COVID-19. These findings parallel similar health disparities for COVID-19 that have been found in adults, the authors state.

Racial Disparities in the Management of Pain Reduction for Minority Children

In Emergency Department management of pain among children with long-bone fractures, there were differences in both process and outcomes measures by race and ethnicity. Minority children are less likely to receive opioids and optimal pain reduction.

Mental Health Visits and Diagnoses for Non-Latino Black Children Outpace Others

The number of children and adolescents visiting the nation’s Emergency Departments due to mental health concerns continued to rise at an alarming rate from 2012 through 2016, with mental health diagnoses for non-Latino Blacks outpacing such diagnoses among youth of other racial/ethnic groups.

Effecting Change Through the Child Health Advocacy Institute

We seek to effect change that will improve health equity for children in our community and beyond. More than 30 years ago, our Child Health Advocacy Institute (CHAI) became the first hospital-based center focused on developing outreach programs and championing policies that build healthier lives for children. As a health system based in Washington, D.C., CHAI works both on the ground and with policymakers to combat D.C. kids’ most pressing health issues. Learn more about our government affairs, community affairs and advocacy education programs.

Young girl getting her lymph nodes checked

Healthcare Disparities Research

The ADAPT Lab is one of several labs at Children's National that seeks to address inequities in pediatric healthcare through research.