New 'Racism and Health guide' aids health providers and consumers

July 25, 2023

Respected peer-reviewed research documents that racism has a significant impact on health and wellbeing. This is a topic of  increasing interest among faculty and students across departments at VCU. Responding to this interest, VCU Libraries’ new Racism and Health guide provides evidence of the relationship between racism and health and health care, resources for teaching and conducting research about this phenomenon, as well as information about social determinants of health and initiatives to address the impacts of racism upon health.   

The guide is the work of research and education librarians Erica Brody and Samantha Guss at the VCU Health Sciences Library. Erica Brody, library liaison to VCU School of Dentistry was updating an existing Health Disparities guide when she realized that a new guide focused entirely on Racism and Health was needed. According to Brody, “while health disparities are an issue for a variety of marginalized groups (disabled, gender expression, etc), I wanted to create a guide devoted to the impact of racism on health because racism is such a significant element of U.S. culture with profound impacts on physical and mental health.”

To prepare the guide, Brody partnered with Samantha Guss, the library liaison to the emerging VCU School of Population Health, who brought her expertise in social science and data resources to the project. Building on the work of librarians from other academic medical centers, Brody and Guss reviewed similar guides from the Ruth Lilly Medical Library at Indiana University, the Health Sciences Library at the University of Arizona (Phoenix), and the University of Michigan to identify resources for consideration. Brody identified additional items from her ongoing reading and participation in webinars about anti-racism and from existing VCU initiatives such as the History and Health program from the Office of the Senior Vice President for Health Sciences’ Office of Health Equity.

In addition, while Brody and Guss were developing the guide, Kathy Kreutzer, M.Ed., a faculty member working with Kevin Harris, Ph.D., senior associate dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the VCU School of Medicine, contacted librarian John Cyrus, VCU Libraries’ liaison to the School of Medicine. They wanted to create a resource for faculty at the School of Medicine to support teaching about racism and health. 

After conferring with Brody, Cyrus and Kreutzer quickly concluded that the Racism and Health guide could meet the needs of the School of Medicine by including resources dedicated to teaching about racism and health. Subsequently, Kreutzer shared a draft of the guide with stakeholders to collect feedback and suggestions for additional resources. Brody and Guss reviewed feedback and incorporated selected suggestions into the guide. 

Initial feedback includes these comments: 

Jean Bailey, Ph.D.—“This impactful guide provides faculty and students with valuable information to help address inequities in teaching and learning as well as course content while providing insights through multiple lenses to examine our learning environments and the disparities we aim to address.”  

Kevin Harris, Ph.D -  “The Racism and Health guide supports faculty in centering attention on the intersections of race and health as it pertains to rather durable inequities that continue to challenge minoritized individuals and communities. The Guide is outcomes, while fostering a more informed and holistic approach to educating our future health workforce.  

The School of Medicine plans to link to the guide from the School of Medicine Faculty Development, Curriculum, and DEI Office pages to make the guides visible to faculty and others who might use these to create or modify teaching resources.

Health information is always evolving, and the guide will continue to evolve as links become obsolete and new information becomes available. To help in this effort, VCU Libraries welcomes suggestions from the VCU community.

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